Friday, December 29, 2006

Year in Review

Some of my favorite issues oriented posts from the last year (in reverse chronological order)...

2006 was also the year Connor was born and Kinsey started kindergarten. Here are some of those posts (in proper chronological order)...
So there you have it. My blog year in review. I hope yours has been good as well and that next year can be a continuation of the pursuit of Christlikeness.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pictures from Christmas

As promised, here are some pictures from the Christmas weekend.

Kinsey waiting patiently for present opening to begin.

Kinsey receiving a very large puzzle present.

Kinsey with Emily, the American Girl doll she got for Christmas from Gee and Dad (my mom and dad).

I guess Connor and I do look a little bit alike.

This is Christmas morning. And this is the slowest that Kinsey was on that morning.

Santa came through for her.

Sheryl's mom, and sister-in-law Sarah with the family.

Sarah and Connor together.

Sheryl's brother, Paul with a tagalong.

It was a great holiday and we were very glad to see everyone and to spend some great time with all of them. That's the best thing about the holidays and remembering that makes it such. Hope you had a great one too.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas the Day after Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I plan on posting pictures later this week of the good times we had with family. It's been good to see family and friends and to spend time with them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Claus is not God

Several years ago, the Nashville Scene conducted an interview about Christmas with several then-local members of the clergy. It was a very interesting piece that gave some really cool insights into many different facets of Christianity, as well as how some Jews view the holidays as well.

One the quotes by Randall Falk, a Jewish Rabbi, was this
I have to tell you that, as a Jew, I've always been thankful that we didn't have to deal with Santa Claus, primarily because the day has to come when you tell the child there really isn't a Santa Claus that we've built up as this benevolent giver. And then the child, I think, begins to wonder, "Well, if there isn't any Santa Claus, maybe there isn't a God." This whole business of rectifying the mythology that we've created can be a very hard problem.
This has been a quote that has stuck with me for nine years, obviously. And it's something that I've really wondered about. I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. I think it was about the time that I figured that unless he could stop time, there was no way Santa could be in every boy and girl's house at exactly midnight. So, I could buy the fat man coming down the chimney after flying from the North Pole with eight reindeer, but not his ability to stop time. Even with that, it's something that obviously didn't affect my belief in God, but I do wonder if the close association of the birth of Jesus and Santa Claus could lead some people to doubt God.

It strikes me that Santa is the first tangible experience of faith that most kids have. They are told that if they are good, then they will receive a reward of that (kind of a conditional love that the article discusses as well). And lo and behold on Christmas morning, they do receive those gifts and so their faith in Santa is encouraged and cultivated until they hear at school about parents putting the toys together or the child that didn't get much of anything, if anything for Christmas.

Now, I love that Kinsey believes in Santa. I love that she truly believes that he is coming down our gas fireplace on Christmas Eve and putting together her toys. However, I really want her to know that Christmas is more than that, and more particularly that Santa Claus is NOT God. God doesn't answer prayers the way Santa fulfills the Christmas list. God is not a jolly fat man that's just waiting to give us every present we want, the Sky Fairy as Donald Miller has called this ideology. And God does not love us conditionally, only being good to us when we are good. And Christmas has to be about more than receiving, more than a Materialism Day. Otherwise, it would be a heck of a lot more profitable to believe in Santa and not God.

I wrote last year about the birth of Christ, about how he was born into scandal and blood and poverty. As we are about to celebrate his birth again and to lavish love on the people around us, I hope we can remember our place in this, as the enactors of his mercies on those around us.

The gift of the love of Christ has been given. I hope we can also give it to others.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's a YouTube Miracle!

Last Christmas, you may have gotten forwarded a video of a guy, Carson Williams, who had put lights on his house and synced them up with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, Wizards of Winter. Here it is.

Well, apparently, Mr. Williams' neighborhood didn't like all the cars sitting in front of their houses and clogging up the streets so he had to shut it down. But this year, he's moved it to a part and gone from 25,000 lights to 80,000 lights. Here are two videos from it, one is a repeat and better video of the one above, the other is a new one, both songs are by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and both videos are much better quality than the one above.

Wizards of Winter

Christmas Eve/Sarejevo 12-24

Both are really cool to watch, although it loses a little of its coolness factor now that it's not on a house.

One final Christmas video. One of my favorite things about YouTube is being able to find old music videos from the 80's and 90's. I'll be sharing some more of those in the future, but for now, here are David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Materialism Day!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Nashville Cohort where we heard Chris Seay speak. I'm not very familiar with his work, but I know he's written some and is a part of the Voice project.

He talked a lot about Christmas and some of his thoughts on it. One of his biggest bones of contention was how materialism and consumerism has become almost inextricably intertwined with the celebration of Jesus' birth. In fact, one of the things that he and his church had thought about was picketing stores that said "Merry Christmas" to people because they found the materialism to be profaning the name of a man who was born in a very poor situation and lived his life as a homeless man.

I found this an interesting idea, because this is something Sheryl and I really struggle with, especially as Kinsey is grasping the idea of Christmas and most particularly the gifts that she gets. So we're trying a couple of things this year.

1) Not as many gifts. Part of feeding the consumerism model is buying (no pun intended) into it.
So, unlike previous years, we're not getting as much stuff.

2) Differences in gifts. We've asked for not so many toys. Kinsey has a ton of toys. A closet full in the basement. A room with a bunch. Toys scattered in various other places. So this year we've asked for clothes and books for her. This is not to say that she's not getting any toys, but after previous experience, what's really the point of buying her a bunch of stuff that she might play with for a week?

3) Thinking of others. For the first time, Kinsey is using her own chore money to buy gifts for people. She and I got something for Sheryl and Connor. I think that's a good experience for her. Something else Chris Seay mentioned was this idea. He said that he asks his kids about other people's birthdays. For instance, if you went to someone else's birthday party and you got all the presents, wouldn't that be weird? He then follows up by asking whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas with the answer being Jesus, of course. He then asks if it's weird for us to get all the presents on Jesus' birthday and him to not get any. The next point is how we give presents to Jesus and it follows the Matthew 25 logic of if we give to "the least of these," then we're giving to Jesus. So we're going to try some of that too with Kinsey. Not sure exactly how yet, but that's something we're trying to work into her thought process.

To me, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to following Jesus is materialism and the drive for more stuff. I hope that's something we can help Kinsey and Connor try to avoid in their pursuit of being his disciples.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards have come a long way. With the advent of picture cards, it's no longer necessary to find the little foldable cards and put them into an envelope. You can just stick the card in and a Christmas letter. And now, with digital photography, you can upload the picture(s) you want at 11PM Saturday and literally pick them up at noon on Sunday. It's a wonderful world.

I've always had a thought about Christmas cards. My least favorite ones are the ones of kids only.

Now, understand what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I don't like kids or that I don't like pictures of kids. But these pictures stay up on our refrigerator all year, and honestly six months from now I'm not going to remember that this one cute face belongs to this family or that these three belong to this one.

As a result in our household, I've issued a moratorium on kids-only picture cards. And then, our kids took the cutest picture ever with Santa. Kinsey had a great smile. Connor was asleep in his arms. It was just beautiful and I was afraid I was going to have to break my rule. Then my intrepid wife found a great option: Double picture cards.

So here is the Christmas card that went out yesterday. Enjoy.

Addendum: I feel I need to clarify what I might have stated without the proper amount of tact and explanation above. I'll use the excuse that it was late....

For me, pictures are about context. Saying that I want families doesn't mean I don't like the pictures of kids only and I want to be off of people's card lists. 1) Sheryl would hate that. 2) I like seeing the kids. My preference is simply to see the entire family.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Weekend

This was a very long week and very long weekend. A lot of work at my job that went really well and being at church until late every evening except Tuesday.

The show went very well and was extremely, extremely funny. It was the same show as two years ago, but there were several new moments that made it even funnier. And of course, Brandon and Laura just completely stole the show. Brandon with his making eyes at Laura and Laura with her "sign language." I'd try to explain it, but in the truest sense of the phrase, word cannot do it justice.

I'm honestly glad the week is over and that I'm able to relax a bit and get some things taken care of and get ready for Christmas.

One last thing re: the post on Friday. I really didn't realize how many people had such strong feelings about HOV lanes. I was honestly very surprised at the comments there.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Watching the HOV Lane

One of the times that I get the angriest is when I have to leave directly from work to go to church. I drive down I-65 toward Brentwood, and on the way, there is a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane where you are supposed to have more than one person in the vehicle. What makes me angry is watching cars that only one person take advantage of a lane they aren't supposed to.

What makes me incredibly satisfied is seeing them pulled over (rarely) by a cop for doing exactly that. Now I was thinking the other day, "Why does that make me so angry?" And as I was thinking, I realized that what made me so angry was that I wished I could be doing that, but my "morals" (for lack of a better term) prevent me from doing something that I really wish I could do too.

It made me think about how I try to conduct my life as a follower of Jesus and my motivations for doing so. Do I not cheat and lie and steal and do things like that because I want to live as a follower of Jesus, or do I not do those things because that's how a Christian is supposed to act, even though I really want to act like that? And to be honest, a lot of times it's a toss up. In some ways, I feel like this transformation into the likeness of Christ is such a long process that I get impatient, especially when I feel like I've been at it for so long.

What I hope is that someday these desires to do something wrong will pass. That I won't wish I could be in the HOV lane with just one person and that I'll accept that life in Christ is the ultimate fulfillment I could hope for.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Quick late post.

Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future) singing about all the questions he gets about Back to the Future.

Roller Blades + Water in Glass Bottles + Sticks = Really Cool Music

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blogger Beta

So you might have noticed that my look has switched and all of my links are gone. I moved over to Blogger Beta last week and decided to start taking advantage of some of the new pieces. I wanted to keep the 3 column format that I had previously, but that meant changing my template completely.

So I'm working on getting everything back, but with the shortness of time this week, it might not happen until next week. If you use this blog to hit a bunch of others, sorry for everything leaving. I'll get it back up soon.

btw, for those of you who need some new Heroes stuff to tide you over until January, check out the online comics. They reveal some info about certain characters, like how Eden and Mr. Bennett came together, and also what Hiro's name is short for and how that relates to his need to stop the bomb in New York. Some are better than others and some are a little confusing, like this week's. But they'll be out every week to give you a fix until January.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Pictures

Well, first this one from after the dance recital last week.

And then Kinsey and Connor with Santa

Kinsey being very clear about her requests.

The family together (taken by Kevin Colvett, one of my blog lurkers from church) I think this one might end up as our card this year.

One I took of Connor underneath the tree.

And one I took of Sheryl and Kinsey looking at the tree. This one turned out really nice.

Have a great day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Busy Week....

I've got a lot of work to do this week, both in my regular job and at church doing sound for The Sanders Family Christmas with Brandon, Laura, and the rest of the crew. As a result, it'll be a light blogging week, or at least shorter posts. Like this one...

Well, except for this. Ray Waddle wrote a response in the Tennessean to some of the issues raised a couple of weeks ago with the Lee Camp stuff. It's an interesting read, as well as the comments to it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christian Coalition Flap

I was wanting to write a long post about the story of the president-elect of the Christian Coalition Joel Hunter stepping down because the group resisted his efforts to expand the agenda beyond homosexuality and abortion to include poverty and global warming. I was going to, but political commentator Stephen Colbert said it much much better.

I'm not sure if Colbert is right about the reason that they didn't want to expand, i.e. afraid of being called liberal. If that's true, they really need to get over that. The simple fact of the matter is that we have to recognize that there are issues that transcend right and left. Poverty has to be one of those. Global warming, whether you believe it's a bad as reported, should be a part of that too. Abortion should be as well, but instead of picketing abortion clinics, how about standing at abortion clinics with a sign that says, "I'll adopt your child." These are issues I talked about in a bit more depth in a post called The Political Liberalization of Evangelicalism, a title that attempted to have the most syllables in the fewest amount of words (19 in 5 if you're counting, or even if you're not).

It seems that an ethic of love calls us to address these issues, but without the hatred and divisiveness that has been the tradition in these conversations.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

YouTube fun...

In a slight twist from the usual YouTube fun, here are four videos that are a parody of the Mac vs. PC ads that a church did called "Christ follower vs. Christian." Now, I'll admit that this is a distinction I've been making myself, but there is something about these "ads" that are off-putting to me.

What do you think?

Original HT to YSMarko

Addendum: Ok, now that some people have had their say, here's mine. Overall, I think they're kind of funny, but my biggest issue is the divisiveness that can come about from them. Sure it's easy to make fun of the "Christian square," but there's this inherent hip-ness of the "Christ follower" that doesn't work for me either. I think rather than pointing out the differences between the two, show the areas where they meet.

There was an older man at church that I knew. He and I probably would not have been able to agree on much theologically, but every Sunday, he parked in one of the spots the furthest away from the building. His thinking was that other people like guests should have the closer spots and he could walk a little further. Now, he and I might have disagreed on baptism or some other theological point (I don't know this, since we never talked about it), but what he showed in that simple act of walking a little farther is his love for people. And for me to denigrate him because we disagree is not just unChristlike, it's disrespectful to him.

I don't think that's the overall point of the videos, but I do think it's so easy to get a spiritual superiority complex that we forget what it means to Christlike. That's the danger of the mindset of the videos.

What is interesting, however, is the response of people where I saw this on Thursday... from Digg. Digg, for those of you who don't know, is a social networking site where people submit stories and then can comment on them and have conversations. The general population there is probably 13-35, male, tech oriented or savvy. The reactions of people who aren't Christians were overwhelmingly positive, which I think speaks once again to attitude that people who aren't Christian have towards people who are but don't act like Christ.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jonesing for January 22...

Look, I could continue to rave about Heroes. Really, I could. I could talk about how the actual resolution of plotlines and characters that you like make it a superior show to some others (or one in particular). I won't.

What I will say is that Monday's episode, Fallout, was a great way to end the fall and get people jonesing for January 22. Seriously, in one episode, we get to see all the heroes in a couple of plotlines. I loved how almost all of them came together in Odessa and we really got to see how they interact. I loved Peter and Matt getting a feedback loop from reading each other's minds. It reminded me of some of my sound running nightmares. I like the continued ambiguity they're giving to Claire's dad. On the one hand, he is a truly loving father to her and wants the best, but on the other, he's a part of some shadowing conspiracy that his daughter is caught up in as well. I think Peter and Claire have some great chemistry together and I can see more interaction for them in the future.

I did feel really sorry for Claire in one aspect and maybe it's why I like her story line so much. For the last few weeks, as she's been dealing with the reality of her power, she's experienced some measure of freedom. You could almost see the weight lifted from her shoulders as she told her dad her secret. Being able to count him with her friend Zach and her brother Lyle as confidants did so much to help her.

And then when she started realizing that those memories had been taken from them, and especially that the really nice friendship she'd built with Zach over the last two weeks was completely gone, my heart just broke for her, because now she was alone in the world again. She was the only one that knew who she was and she couldn't tell him or anything now. It was really well done and the look of shock when the Haitian came into her room and told her that it was her dad that was doing it was also very good. I do wonder how all of that is going to play out and how now her relationship with him is going to change. I've been very impressed by Hayden Panetierre's acting ability in the course of the show so far.

It also reminds me of the emotional resonance that the Charlie/Hiro storyline dealt with. The writers and actors did such a nice job of getting their relationship right and the love that they experienced that when Hiro understood that he couldn't save her, it just broke her heart and I think it hardened him some.

I'm almost completely bored by the Nikki/Jessica/DL/Micah arc. The writers really need to do some thing good with that storyline before it drags the show down.

On the whole though, I've been very very impressed with the show and I'm very much looking forward to next season, especially since we seem to have retired "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" as a catchphrase (though not a plot line) and moved to "Are you on the List?" Which seems to indicate the search for more heroes.

Wait, I guess I did rave about the show there. I'd apologize, but I'm not really sorry.

Also, if you haven't seen all the episodes, you can see all of them for free here. Well worth the catch up for those of you who haven't seen it and a nice review if you have. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kinsey's first Dance Recital

Kinsey has been taking dance lessons this fall and Sunday was her first recital and she was the cutest thing ever! She did a great job and danced well and just seemed to have so much fun with it. She was so lucky, because not only were Sheryl and I there, Sheryl's mom and dad came, as did my dad. And even 5 (!) of her England friends: Tiffany, Melody, Amanda, and Dan and Mary. She is so lucky to have so many great grown up friends. Thanks for coming out.

Pictures below and a video of her dance as well.

Kinsey getting ready for the music to start.

After the show, with all the flowers people got for her.

Kinsey with her dance teacher, Miss Angie.

Kinsey on the stage after it was all done.

And here's the video. I took it with my digital camera since they didn't allow video ones in so the quality isn't all that great. Oh and when you hear something that sounds like a wheeze, that's me laughing at Kinsey telling people where they should be in the line. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

How to have a great football and fantasy football weekend

Some of you remember that I'm playing my first season of fantasy football with the team name Nonviolent Resistors. I'm guaranteed getting into the playoffs now, of course 85% of the people in our league are in it.

My lineup has changed significantly over the course of the season, but one constant is Marvin Harrison, wide receiver for the hated Indianapolis Colts (I'm a Titans fan). Yesterday the Colts and the Titans played each other here in Nashville. This is a time when I think that fantasy football plays against traditional football rooting for a team. On one hand, I really wanted the Titans to win. Really wanted them to win.

On the other, I needed Marvin Harrison to have a great day, which generally means him having a lot of receiving yards and scoring several touchdowns, which is counter to the wish of the Titans winning.


Yesterday, Marvin Harrison caught 7 passes for 172 yards (that's a lot for you football neophytes) and 1 touchdown. Which was good for me.

And the Titans beat the hated Colts on a last minute 60 yard field goal (that's a long way for you football neophytes, a really long way) by Rob Bironas. Which was outstanding for me.

And that's how you have a great football AND fantasy football weekend.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood"

Obviously, on the top of my mind this week has been the Lee Camp stuff that I talked about on Wednesday. I have several thoughts on this.

1) About the Tennessean. Ok, I know that newspapers are out for readership. That's just a fact. And controversy stirs up readers, as this story obviously did. However, there has to be some responsibility taken for the level of irresponsible journalism that was incredibly apparent in the story as it originally appeared. And truth be told, what they printed yesterday from Lee was good, but it appeared on the third page of the second section, not the front page as the original article did. Again, I understand the nature of the business and that it probably wouldn't have appeared on the front page, but I would think page 2 of section 1 would have been more appropriate.

AND, what the Tennessean printed yesterday about the controversy was just plain abysmal. What it basically said was "Hey, look at us and the controversy we started by reporting this wrong! Look at all the comments people made based on our incorrect reporting! Look at us!!!!!!!"

The Tennessean has to take responsibility for this level of reporting. They simply must. And they need to issue a public apology for either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting Lee's views.

2) Talk Radio. Once again, I know that controversy stirs up ratings, but what I heard on 99.7 WTN on Wednesday was almost unbelievable. Well, I guess it would be unbelievable if it weren't talk radio. It would be slanderous. However, talk radio hosts and callers can pretty much say whatever they want. And Kevin Miller did. Mr. Miller needlessly stirred up controversy and trashed the name of someone he doesn't know, based the reports of a paper that he generally would mistrust because of its "liberal bias." And spent at least two hours doing it with his callers: people who had their information about this filtered through him about this whole thing.

And yesterday, nary a word. I didn't hear an apology, no "oops, we didn't understand that the Tennessean had misrepresented him," nothing. What passes for info-tainment on our radio airwaves is just maddening.

3) Bloggers. Well, I could say a lot about this too, but it's primarily in the same vein as above. People making judgments that they didn't take the time to find out about more fully about. And it's not like Lee hasn't written a book or anything that people could do some investigating in, you know?

One thing that I and a few others have been doing is using the BlogSearches that I linked to on Wednesday and where we find someone that has excoriated Lee and not seen his response, we link to the response. Several people have issued apologies based on this and when we comment with grace and love, it prevents a lot of misunderstanding.

4) Other Christians. This one disappoints me the most. From posts in the comments section of the original article to blogs to rumors that were flying around, Lee's Christian brothers and sisters made snap judgments about this entire situation that showed a lack of faith in the words that Jesus said that I quoted a couple weeks ago when Brandon got his anonymous letter, and I'll quote here again. Matthew 18:15-18 clearly states:
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

What people did was ignore this clear teaching by Jesus. And in fact to digress into a little Biblical interpretation here, people have used this passage to disfellowship or excommunicate people from their community. Verse 17 says to treat them as a pagan or tax collector. Treating them as Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors means eating with them, talking with them, loving them!

With snap judgments and deliberately hurtful comments toward Lee, people show that they are more admirers of Jesus rather than followers of him, and that just confirms what most people think about Christians. And not in the good way.

Well, this has been a long post and I could say more. Good things that have come out of this include the manner of support that Lipscomb has shown Lee, such as the statement released on Wednesday afternoon. It would also be great if Lee's thoughts on discipleship got some more press, not limited to Mere Discipleship getting into the hands of a lot more people.

Lee also got some positive press on WKRN News2 last night, when he was interviewed by Faith and Ethics reporter, Jamey Tucker.

Hopefully, the negatives of this situation will pass quickly and everyone can learn the Covey lesson about understanding someone else first. Or to put at little more bluntly, shut up and listen.
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