Head First: 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Impending papal smackdown sends strong warning to Satan

"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," says Father Gabriele Amorth, on Pope Benedict XVI's recent order to bishops to drastically increase the number of qualified exorcists in dioceses worldwide.

Apparently, God is still busy breaking up the row between the priests in Bethlehem, so the vicar of Christ will pick up the slack by keeping that pesky Beelzebub at bay with roving "exorcism squads." So I guess that's good. Still, as I read this story and the accompanying photos, I couldn't help but think...

Who would I rather meet in a dark alley? One who comes as an angel of light? Or a snarling german on a throne waving a dangling dead Jesus-on-a-stick?

I dunno, man...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas is over. Business as usual.

[cue music]...peace on earth, good will toward men. 

Aaaa-meeeeeen.[/stop music]

Earlier today, inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (not Pennsylvania, the REAL one), Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests broke into a real live fistfight while photographers documented the event. Seven people were injured in the flurry of fists, brooms and iron bars (yes, iron bars), including two Palestinian police. 

Apparently, various Christian sects control different areas of the church, and during the post-holiday cleanup, someone's ladder crossed into enemy territory in what can only be described as the religious rendition of "Daaad, he's touching me! Tell him to stay on his side!!"

God was reportedly heard to say, "If I stop this car, somebody's gonna be sorry!"

Full story here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

When I was thirsty...

Go here for more information on the Advent Conspiracy

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Straight, No Chaser

It was the name of the group that first caught my eye. ; )

I've been emailed this clip from four people, and, judging from the number of hits on YouTube, you've likely seen it by now, but I'm putting it up anyway. It's from a concert in 1998. I just love this:

Friday, December 14, 2007

All I want for Christmas...

...is a tour announcement (pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease).

(Oh, and the five hundred bucks it'll probably take to get a ticket.) Read more here. 

My favorite quote about Monday night's show comes from Pete Paphides (The Times of London):

  "With a synergy like this going on, it would be an act of cosmic perversity to stop now."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Random Stickie...

On my two primary computers, an iMac and my trusty black MacBook, I've come to rely upon a genius little app called "Stickies," which allows me to place collapsible PostIt-type notes all over my desktop. You probably have something like it. It's a handy tool for keeping reminders, to-do lists, phone numbers, etc. as well as a repository for random thoughts, interesting quotes, and other ideas to be stored for later use. Between my two desktops, I must have thirty of these things, mostly consisting of mental meanderings I intended to develop into blog brilliance somewhere down the line. Thing is, I have more thoughts than I have time to sit down and work through them.

Anyway, I was browsing through my pile of Stickies, discarding old lists of already-accomplished chores and people to call back, and ran across this gem:

Relationships need to be organic. They happen as believers get out of their cloisters and interact with the world. It happens when we start to be real and open to the notion that we have something to receive in the exchange instead of wasting our time looking for ways to steer the conversation toward God.

To be honest, I'm not sure whether I wrote this or if it's a quote from someone else, but it was on the same note as a rant (which was definitely mine) about how evangelism and marketing are almost interchangeable terms in the church. Maybe we can work through it together.

Expect to see more from the Stickies pile.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Relationship or Righteousness?

Instead of righteousness, let's just say right-ness. Which takes precedent?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fresh start?

I think I just saw a little glimpse of daylight...

Monday, September 10, 2007

When I go...

To the previous post (about Pavarotti), Caro commented:

"As for all of this world's glories, triumphs, trials and tragedies, 'This too shall pass.' When our voices are silenced, will anyone remember who we were? Will our spirit of love remain in the hearts of those we've touched? GOD, help us live worthy of death!"

As I read Caro's very apt thought, I was reminded of my friend, Ed Onorato. Ed was a fabulous, professional musician and a loyal friend, with whom I had the privilege to play many times. He died of leukemia about this time last year. More than his talent, he would do anything for anyone. His generosity of spirit seemed boundless. At his (standing room only, 500+) memorial service, person after person stood and offered stories of the joy and compassion Ed brought to their lives.

Several weeks ago, I was at my favorite Italian restaurant with my family. There was a guy there, set up with his keyboard and percussion machine, singing all your favorite Italian love songs. As he sang, I sat there and wept into my '03 Sangiovese. All I could think of was Ed, and how terribly I still miss him. After we finished our meal, I approached the fellow to put a few bucks in his jar. He was between songs, so I asked him, "Did you know my friend, Ed?" Tears immediately filled his eyes as he told me how much he missed playing with Ed, too. I was getting choked up again, so I didn't stick around to chat (I didn't even get the guy's name).

I've reflected on that moment a number of times with a number of friends, and have always come back to the same question. Can you imagine being a person who has such influence with people that, a year after you're gone, strangers will cry with one another at the mention of your name? I echo Caro's cry, God, help us live such lives.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Dangerous Freedom

A few days ago, recent Slice of Laodicea target, NakedPastor posted here about scripture in the context of freedom:

"Freedom is the healthiest condition of the mind and heart, and it is the happiest place of humanity. If you read the scriptures, they must inform that reality of freedom and testify to our momentary liberation. Somehow, scripture must act like a fertilizer that percolates our minds and hearts with the freedom that the Spirit brings. The bible is not to be used as an instruction booklet on how to follow the proper steps to salvation. It is like a document from a free land that announces to us that our bonds have been broken and we are free indeed."

As I read his post, I thought about an old quote I read from Grace Murray Hopper:
"A ship is safest in the harbor, but that's not what ships are built for."

Perhaps it's just a fundamental human tendency, but I see a lot of christendom tied up securely at the dock. I can't make up my mind which distresses me more, the person (or church) that forges ahead ham-handedly and makes a mess of things, or the one who thinks, "If I never attempt anything, I'll never fail."

In the interest of full-disclosure, I have been both of those people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some observations:

- church that is built on any agenda but to love people and be in relationship with one another is destined to miss God's intent for the Church, which, coincidentally, happens to be to love people and be in relationship with one another.

- any church whose agenda is to make converts will have a hell of a time convincing me that they don't see outsiders as potential notches in their collective bible.

- submission to one another as a behavioral pattern is not easily compatible with the idea of taking your city/state/country for Christ.

- it's not right to throw stones at people, even if they're real bastards and shoot arrows at you first.

- people who try to fix other people just make life difficult for everyone (my 8 year-old daughter made this observation).

- I find myself trusting God more these days, because I don't have all that certainty to fall back on.

- I'm not angry anymore, but I'm still a little sad.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Would you buy uniforms from this man?

Today, my little brother turns 39 (again). Show him some love.

Turning 40 can be a tricky thing. Actually, any of the "decade" birthdays can play with your head. Thirty was a bit of a crisis for me, because I so thoroughly enjoyed my twenties. By my 40th, I felt like I was hitting my stride (of course, within two years, everything went to hell, so...). Nevertheless, as time marches, it becomes more apparent that the important things in life are love, family and relationships (oh, and fishing). So, in that regard, Senor Jefe wants for nothing (except a cool Jeep like mine).

Happy 40th, Jefe. I love you. I wish we could be there, but Julia and I are going camping (oh, and fishing).

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Uh, what was the question?

All my life, I've heard one preacher or another say, "If you always keep the Main Thing the main thing, then the Main Thing will always be the main thing." Sounds like pastor Yogi Berra, I know, but the idea is that it's important to remember what's...um... important (hmph, must be contagious).

One of the problems with theo-blogs is the ease with which we chase down topical rabbit-holes until it's difficult to remember what we were talking about to begin with. I admit, there have been times when I've come away from conversations with my head spinning. If you'll bear with me, I need to go back and cover the basics.

So, in the light of the many discussions we've had, here and elsewhere, my question is back to this:

Just what is the gospel?

I'm serious. How do you define the Good News?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Spam!

The holy grail of canned meat turns 70 this year.

Happy birthday, Spam (oh, and you, too, America).

H/T to National Public Radio. Get the whole story here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

These are the days...

As a parent, I've never wanted my kids to think they deserve a parade for, say, pooping in the toilet, where they're supposed to. I love whipping out that passage from Luke 17:

"Does the servant get special thanks for doing what's expected of him? It's the same with you. When you've done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, 'The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.'"
In fact, the idea of a kindergarten graduation sends me into a fire-spitting fit. So, naturally, when number one daughter was finishing up 8th grade, I resisted making a bigger deal out of it than I thought was necessary (Of course, that was the cue for everyone else in my family to pull out all the stops.).

Nevertheless, as I thought about my little girl (now taller than her mother), leaving friends she's been with since Pre-K, I found myself drawn into the emotion of the event. All I talk about is the importance of relationship, and here she is, faced with being pulled from the people she thinks of as brothers and sisters to go to a huge high school where she knows almost no one. Although I know it's part of life and of growing up, my heart aches for her a little. For about a week after she finished, she cried herself to sleep almost every night. I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for MySpace and Verizon's unlimited text plans.

During the graduation ceremony, the students had prepared some remarks about their time together. Catherine and her friend, Alyssa stood and talked about how much they fight with one another (I can attest to this). Yet, no matter how bitter the battle, the love they have for one another always compels them to find a way back to peace (usually through Rebecca, the peacemaker of the group). It was a lesson for most of the adults in the room. How do we go about losing that kind of deep commitment to each other? Did we ever have it? I don't remember, but I want it back. Thanks, Ambassador Christian Academy 8th graders, for the reminder of how Jesus intends us to be. Good stuff.

So anyway, while I do not want to make a bigger deal out of this than it is, I want to say congratulations to my little girl, the now-9th grader. I love you, sweetheart.

Please pay your cell phone bill.

This is the video I put together for the graduation ceremony. It might come across as a little cheesy if you don't know the kids, but I tried to capture the bond that they share. Its really remarkable to observe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Letter to a friend...

Y'know, when I think about the last couple years, I think the most painful part about the whole experience is that of being misunderstood by people who I thought would "get it." Yeah, the slander, the misrepresentations of my remarks, they angered me plenty. But they were just diversions perpetrated by guys who needed to cover their self-serving asses and cling to control, their idea of strength. I guess they didn't have much choice, other than own up to character flaws they could not even perceive in themselves. What's the old saying? Something about self-righteousness being like body odor... everyone knows who has it except the one who has it. I'd laugh, but then I'd wonder how badly I smell. Heh.

Thing is, I thought you would understand. I really thought you would see how those sinister circumstances propelled me to a place where the questions I've always asked could be explored. It wasn't comfortable--still isn't--but there's little denying that a great deal of good has come from it. The farther I get from it, the more I see it. My friendships with the kids are more meaningful, our bond more substantive because of the voluntary nature of our fellowship. It's not a job anymore. I'm favored to have them around.

But when I hear the people for whom I care deeply reduce the road I travel to the result of a petty argument, it pains me thoroughly. The fight was probably inevitable. If not about this, then something else. Two people cannot believe such vastly different things so dogmatically without coming to blows, eventually. I've had to repent of my dogmatism. It was hurtful, and I admitted as much, but compromise wasn't in the cards. But to hear it all reduced to, "Well, you're both just stubborn," really cuts to the quick. I like to think I have more integrity than that. I thought you thought so, too. But you talk to me (and about me) as if this is a phase I'm going through. Well, I can't say that it's not. But you seem so sure that it is.

And, now that the cast of this drama is poised to change, you seem to think that we can put everything back to normal, as if my difficulty will be resolved by swapping out one insecure autocrat for another. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but it's not just the man that's broken. The system that a man devised is broken, too. I just don't think it's enough, and that's why I have little confidence that putting a fresh coat of paint on Egypt will make it profitable to return there. It's still bondage, just under new management.

I'm not angry anymore. A number of people have observed that I'm far less stressed and a great deal more peaceful out here in the sunshine and fresh air. You've said it, too. I do miss seeing people regularly, and church offered the venue for that contact, even if it was sometimes fleeting. But sometimes an encouraging word only takes a second to offer, and I do miss the easy opportunity to offer it. Now, it just takes a little more effort. Fancy that.

I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish by saying these things to you. I still love you, my friend. That won't change. But maybe that's why it hurts when you talk about the "new thing" that I'm into, as if it's some sort of fad. Would it kill you to consider that there might be some merit to the idea that we don't have to fit all of life into a box, or that the certainty we cling to might just be holding closed the door to deeper truths? Sure, it can be scary. That's why God ordained that we do it together. That's why the enemy (whoever that is) prefers that we go it alone. Here, take my hand. Come and see.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's not all turnpike and tenements.

I occasionally speak of the "still gardeny part of the Garden State." Well here's a taste (my favorite taste, too). Climbing a tree in the back part of the orchard is like being somewhere else entirely. Good therapy. I'm not saying this is what keeps me here, but this is one of the things that make it tolerable (well that and the fact that the woman I sleep with lives here).

The ones they grow over by the landfill have arms. Pretty trippy, if you're not used to it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wake up, genius.

Sometimes, you have to just stop daydreaming about your next blog topic and remember that's a chain saw in your hand.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

For the umpteenth year in a row, I went to a Memorial Day Parade today with Mrs. Dorsey and the little Dorsies. I made a couple observations:

First, I'm pretty sure I would make one badass bagpiper. I don't think I'm a Scotsman, but I know I could pull it off.

Second, I cannot abide string bands. I don't know if anyone outside the greater Philadelphia area has been subjected to the concept of Mummers, but trust me when I tell you, they're a sight to behold, and an embarrassment to decent drinking folks everywhere. Picture fifty semi-sober South Philly union guys, arrayed in brightly colored costumes, feathers and sequins as far as the eye can see, playing "Golden Slippers" as they dance down the avenue. Nothing says, "I'm gay" like shiny prancing drunks with banjos and saxophones.

Third, I want a 1943 Willys Jeep, preferably one like this, with a big gun mounted in the back. I think this would be a most effective traffic-management tool.

Fourth, I regret never having served in the military. Every year, I get a little choked up when the old guys from the American Legion march past. Today, there was one old guy on the front line, looking to be about ninety. He was too weak to carry a flag, but was clearly determined to march. His shirt was pressed, his shoes shined, and although his gait was shaky, he kept the cadence well. There was another younger veteran to his right who was ready with a steadying hand, but it didn't look like he was going to need it. As he marched down High St. ahead of the Stars and Stripes, the crowd on both sides of the street began to applaud the old soldier. As applause gave way to cheers, I remembered how much I love being an American. No matter in what condition we find ourselves as a nation, I will always be grateful to the men and women, the sons and daughters, the husbands and brothers, who gave up their lives for the idea of America (whatever that means to you). And I will always rise to my feet and remove my hat when our flag passes by.

I'm seriously considering the bagpipe thing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What fish tell their children about me...

"And I beheld a rider on a pale boat. His name was Death, and Hell followed after him."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Interesting Juxtaposition...

...but is it sound? To what degree are God and Love interchangeable terms?

(all emphases mine)
(1 John 4:8) "The one who does not love does not know God, for God IS love."

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5) "Love (God?) is patient, love (God) is kind. It (He) does not envy, it (He) does not boast, it (He) is not proud. It (He) is not rude, it (He) is not self-seeking, it (He) is not easily angered, it (He) keeps no record of wrongs." (!!!!!!!!!)

That's pretty much exactly the opposite of what my 6th grade sunday school teacher told me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Man knows not his time...

Jerry Falwell died today. When Erik told me the news, the first thought that came to my mind was David's lament upon hearing of the death of Saul: "How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!" (2 Sam. 1)

I'm disappointed at some of the responses I've read on the blogs concerning his passing. I wonder if some bloggers can see the irony in the smug satisfaction they display over the demise of their "enemy."

"I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all." (Eccl. 9:11)

I disagreed with Jerry Falwell on many points. He was never, ever a person with whom I aligned myself. But I think my brother said it best earlier today (I'm paraphrasing):

If God has enough grace for an alcoholic, or a homosexual, or a sinner, I think He has enough grace for an evangelical, too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


This explains everything!

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Chink in My Armor...

I went to church yesterday.

Catherine, my older daughter, had been asked to perform a solo for a special service promoting the church's school, so I went to hear her sing. As it turns out, she had been given discretion to select the song, and she chose a tune made popular by Casting Crowns entitled "Does Anybody Hear Her?" I've listened to Casting Crowns, a little. They tend to be a bit didactic, sounding like a cross between MercyMe and every youth group sermon you've ever heard. So when Catherine chose this song, I didn't really think much of it. But, hearing the lyrics for the first time, I thought how interesting and ironic that she would sing this song before the congregation:

She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction
She is trying
But the canyon's ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She's another two years older
And she's three more steps behind

Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even know she's going down today
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

She is yearning
For shelter and affection
That she never found at home
She is searching
For a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day
And in walks her prince charming
And he knows just what to say
Momentary lapse of reason
And she gives herself away

Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even know she's going down today
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me

If judgment looms under every steeple
If lofty glances from lofty people
Can't see past her scarlet letter
And we never even met her

I sat in the very back of the auditorium and wept as she sang (she totally killed, btw). I didn't cry (as some might suppose) because my kid was tearing it up on the platform. My tears came because, at 14, she can already see that this is where the church is missing the point. Maybe I should feel hopeful that Christendom's young people are not blind to the distance between the church and the world around it. But if so, my hope is tempered by the fact that there's no one there who is able (willing?) to help them channel that awareness into something useful.

Don't look at me like that...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Quandary of Self-Determination

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world; there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were all meant to shine as children... it is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same as we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hell, yeah!

I fear getting old. Because I've abused this body so badly, I'm afraid that it's going to happen many years sooner than it ought.

I feel much better after watching this video:

H/T to devil ducky.com.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Too pooped to pop.

This might be the longest I've ever gone without a post. It's not that I have nothing to say. I just haven't had the time to say it. I didn't attend Easter services like some of those other sellouts. I stayed home and finished baking bread for the holiday meal with my wife's family. It turned out to be a nice day. Time may not heal all wounds, but it does have its effect.

It's good to take time to do the things you love. I love baking bread, especially a real rustic Tuscan-style boulle, with a thick, toothy crust and chewy middle. It's a very creative and often spiritual experience, observing and participating in the transformation of four basic ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast) into a life-sustaining thing of beauty. What would otherwise be a useless ball of glue is breathed to life by a quarter teaspoon of yeast. With time, the gluten develops an elastic, cohesive bond, the grain ferments, the flavor develops. Then, the pungent, ripened mix is punched down and shaped. It springs back from its beating, higher than before, its final perfection attained in blazing heat. There are a hundred metaphors for life and spirituality in bread-baking. At one time or another, I've considered just about all of them. Easter seemed a fitting opportunity to meditate on resurrection, as the thing that was dead now not only lives, but sustains life, as well.

I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

He said "please," so I said ok.

Chris is working on his Ph.D. and asked me to post a link to his survey. I'm interested to see the results.

Exploring the Role of Internet Advertising in American Politics:

This survey is designed to help us understand what Americans like you think about internet advertising, modern campaigns, and politics. We are very interested in your thoughts on this matter and greatly appreciate your participation.

Click here to take the survey.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

And now, a musical interlude...

I couldn't stop watching this. As one viewer observed, it's completely absurd, and totally inspired. I forgot how much I miss Freddy Mercury.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Questioning God from way down here.

I printed the Allen quote yesterday because (like most Woody Allen material) it struck me as funny. But I noticed something this morning. The presupposition of his comment (like most Woody Allen material) is that he, himself is at the center of his own attention, and everything else (including God) is judged according to the skew of his self-centric stance. It's good fodder for a punchline, but I have trouble seeing it succeed as a worldview.

One of the problems, as I see it, is that it's almost impossible to come to the conclusion that God exists without coming to the simultaneous conclusion that this spot where I stand is not the center of all things. Add to that the claim of Christ that "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me," and my importance to all creation is even further marginalized.

While in Washington recently, my wife and I attended a service at the National Cathedral. I have trouble knowing how to describe that place. Built over the course of 83 years from Indiana limestone (NO structural steel) and with no federal money, this anything-but-humble architectural wonder towers 301 feet over the surrounding neighborhood. Inside, next to one of four fluted stone support columns measuring 27-feet across, the Dean of the Cathederal, Dr. Sam Lloyd delivered a challenging, Christ-centered Lenten message from a pulpit carved from a stone taken from Canterbury Cathedral (aka The Mother Ship).

Now, if you know me, you know that few people scream louder than I when churches spend a gajillion dollars on buildings. But I have to say this: as the speaker's words echoed up into the 100-foot ceiling of this great gothic structure, I suddenly glimpsed at least part of the logic of building such an enormous and majestic house of prayer. In that place, at that moment, there was no way I could mistake myself for the center of anything. No, as I bowed my head and confessed my selfish heart, I felt appropriately small.

Richard Dawkins will think me a mindless dolt, but, while I have a million questions for God, and about God, I don't feel the need to question God (does that make sense?). As I told a friend recently, I have come to loathe Christianity only because I love Jesus Christ. I have come to terms with the non-empirical nature and mystery of faith. I consider the message of the gospel and its apparent incompatibility with reason to be more an insufficiency of man's ability to reason than a deficiency of faith.

The problem with many theists and many athiests is that they each insist on being arbiters of an absolute truth. And, as they do, they occupy that spot in the center of the universe that belongs to Another.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

God and the problem of pain.

"How do you expect me to believe in God, when only last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of my electric type-writer?"

—Woody Allen

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Are you kidding me?

This is on an endcap display at CVS pharmacy in my town. Is it just me, or is this a little indelicate? Maybe the store manager just hasn't seen a television for the last couple weeks. Tasteless, nevertheless.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From the White House to a black house.

I took the missus to our nation's capital for a dazzling Valentine's weekend. It's only a couple hours' drive from here. I wish we made the trip more often. If you haven't already, you must make a trip to D.C. a priority. I'll write more later about the specifics of the trip, because there's much to talk about, including a really cool insider tour of the West Wing (I stole paper towels from the White House toilet), and an equally interesting church service (yes, I went to church) at the National Cathedral. We capped it all off with a beer and a very excellent bowl of oyster stew at Martin's Tavern, in Georgetown (we saw the booth where JFK proposed to Jackie ::sigh::). All in all, a spectacular weekend.

Then we came home.

This isn't really my house
(my house is almost twice as large as this).

As soon as I smelled it, I knew we were in trouble. The whole housed smelled like a fuel truck had overturned and caught fire in the living room. I noticed a patch of black above every vent on my way to the basement. As I descended the cellar steps, I couldn't even see the basement floor for the smoke. It took a minute to get to the furnace and figure out what happened. While we were away, the stove pipe had come disconnected from the chimney fluestack. Every time the heater kicked on, the exhaust from the oil burner spewed into the basement, where the heater fan picked it up and distributed all that soot through the entire house. Every surface in my house is covered by a thin layer of soot. Curtains, carpets, linens, clothing...everything (Oddly, my iMac somehow repelled the filth, standing like a shining beacon of hope on my otherwise grimy desk. Bless you, Steve Jobs.). Every surface, even inside the closets and drawers, has to be cleaned by hand.

So here I blog, from my suite at the Residence Inn, where I will remain until sometime next week. Despite the roaring inconvenience, we recognize that this could have been much worse. No one was hurt, nothing of value was destroyed, and we get to live in a decent hotel for a bit (with a good free breakfast) while someone else gives our house the spring cleaning of its life. All I'm out is a couple grand for the deductible and repairs to the furnace. I'm pretty sure I can recoup my losses from the numbnuts oil guy who last serviced the system and didn't put any screws in the flue connection. I should also take this opportunity to plug State Farm Insurance. I've never had to file a homeowner's claim before, but while they weren't the cheapest guys in town, all that talk about Good Neighbor Service is way more than just talk. So far, I'm very impressed.

I have to go check on the cleaning crew and try to reassemble my wrecked work schedule for the next couple weeks. I'll talk more about the D.C. trip soon. Peace.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How Do I Love Ye (or is it Thee?)

Although we celebrate his day, it's unclear just who Saint Valentine was. Turns out, there were three saints named Valentinus, and they were all martyred. Judging from the tone of their holiday, I'd guess they must have gotten in trouble for getting a little action on the side.

But anyway, since we celebrate vitamin-enriched Eros-brand love today, I thought I'd offer some helpful hints to some of the younger fellows in the crowd and let you in on the secrets of showing love to your spouse. This is how we show love to Mrs. Dorsey in the Marshall household.

One day each week, my daughters and I gather in the living room. This is where we always meet to honor my wife. In fact, we don't really use the room for anything else. It's sort of "her" room, y'know? Here's how the event typically goes down:

• We start with a brief statement, thanking her for all that she does for us, and then asking her to do more.

• Then I break out my Strat and we sing some songs about her. We do two lively songs (the kids like to dance) and two slow ones. If I'm really getting into it, I'll break into some Barry White (Can't get enough of your love, baby...). There's a lot of talk about touching Mrs. D, but we never actually do it.

• Then I pass a basket around and imply to the girls that, if they really love Mommy, they'll certainly want to help out by kicking in to help pay for some new drapes for the living room. I mean, how can we say, "I love you, mom," when we make her live here with those ratty curtains? Well, that's the rationale, anyway. To be honest, I pocket most of the money myself.

• The girls and I take a short break and greet one another, and talk about going to a movie later.

• I deliver a prepared speech, informing the girls that Mommy loves them and that, if they'd be more committed to Mommy (by helping Daddy paint the living room and hang the new drapes), she would love them even more.

• We end the event by briefly addressing Mrs. D, thanking her for being with us.

After the meeting, the kids and I go out for a meal, usually a Chinese buffet. We leave Mrs Dorsey there, in the living room. Someone asked how we came up with this process. I don't really know. We've just always done it this way.

Seriously, if I showed love to my wife the way we often show love to God, she'd probably stop coming to the meetings, too. She's not about jewelry a couple times a year or vacuous displays of affection. She's more convinced that I love her when I fold some clothes or empty the dishwasher, when I take time I could spend elsewhere and spend it with her, when I read with the girls. Likewise, while I do not feel the need to question God's love for me, the thought of my love for Him worries me, sometimes.

Happy Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Finally, a reason to watch the Grammys.

That was freakin' awesome.
If you missed it:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Don't be afraid. We're from Google,
and we're here to help you.

Ok, so I thought it might be a good time to listen to Blogger and upgrade my template. I've always known just enough HTML to be a danger to myself and others, but I always managed to figure it out. Apparently, however, my pseudo-skill set is no longer sufficient to render my pensive baby blues at the top of the page. It also turns out that I am not in the mood to deal with it at this moment. Maybe it's time for a complete overhaul. At any rate, you're free to roam the halls until I can figure out what XML is about.

Meanwhile, click here to get saved at the Squirrel Revival.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Church I want to be.

Mrs. Dorsey handed me this several minutes ago. I immediately wanted to share it with you. It crystallizes some of the thoughts I've been dancing with, but which have, until now, refused to coalesce into coherence. I'm really starting to choke on what can often be rightly construed as self-righteous disdain for people God loves, despite whatever hypocrisy I might perceive.

The Church as Witness
by L.T. Jeyachandran

As an apologist, I am often engaged in conversations that involve the philosophical, theological, scientific, and historical reasons by which one could reasonably conclude that Jesus is exactly who he said he was--the eternal God now come in the flesh. But interestingly enough, Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that the final apologetic by which this world will recognize that he was sent by God is the demonstrable love-relationship that will be seen in the lives of his disciples.

Why is it that the unfathomable truth of Word made flesh can only be conclusively understood in a living, verifiable community of believers? Why is it that of all the methods that the evil one could invent to thwart the purposes of God, none would succeed so spectacularly as the disruption of relationships among the members of the body of Christ?

There is one simple but profound answer. God is a Being in relationship and any truth pertaining to Him, in the final analysis, stands attested by exemplary relationships among his creatures.

To the clever lawyer who questioned him about the greatest commandment in all of Scripture, Jesus significantly refrained from giving religious or ritualistic requirements; instead, he had only two simple relational injunctions to offer: "Love your God" and "Love your neighbor" (Matthew 22:34-40). By placing these two commands at the same level, Jesus brought relationships into focus. Thus, worshipping God is not about mere observance, but relating to Him in love. He is likewise the one who liberates the individual from the self to love others. The first commandment thus becomes foundational and makes the second obey-able. But by the same token, obedience to the second commandment becomes the evidence that the first has been obeyed. The brilliance of this summation is polluted by the pluralist cacophony assaulting us at every turn.

Yet it is in this context that the Church finds itself entrusted with the onerous responsibility of speaking about the relational nature of God. What better way could there be to communicate this blessed reality than by a model which would uncompromisingly demonstrate it before a watching world!

In this, no contemplation of the beauty and glory of God within a community of believers can be complete without some understanding of the relationship between the Three Persons of the Trinity. The image God has given us in the Trinity is an image of three co-eternal, co-equal Persons giving themselves to one another in eternal self-effacement. The glory of our God is not a thunder-and-lighting quality, but a self-giving love within the Trinity. And Jesus's prayer for his disciples (and us) is that this same glory may be given to us that we "may be one" even as they are one. Is there any question why servanthood and relationship-building is no longer an optional extra for the Christian but essential to reflecting the glory of the Triune God?

In a society that is increasingly fragmented and individualized, it is easy to develop a theology of the Church as a collection of perfect individuals. But a right understanding of the relationships within the Trinity would militate against such an interpretation. We do well to remember the powerfully acted parable of Jesus as he washed the disciples' feet. The feet of all the disciples were dirty, but as they would submit themselves to cleansing by one another, they would emerge as a perfect community (John 13:14). We may fundamentally have no difficulty having ourselves cleansed by Christ, but to submit to ablutions by another is virtually unthinkable. The disciples (and we as well) would have been very happy to wash the feet of Jesus, but his injunction was that they should wash one another's feet. It was a strange but effective way of communicating the importance of relating to one another by forgiving, cleansing, and accepting one another in perfect mutuality. In other words, two imperfect individuals can synergistically portray a perfect relationship--the very antidote so desperately needed to correct our individualistic privatized spirituality!

It is an issue within Scripture that cannot be overemphasized. The hallmark of the Church of Jesus Christ is a relational testimony which serves as a pointer to the reality of the Eternal Triune God. May we, under God, consciously discern every trap that the devil sets for us to rupture relationships, and trust the Holy Spirit of love to breathe his healing and remake our fractured bonds.

L.T. Jeyachandran is executive director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Singapore.

© 2007 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission, but with a prayer that they won't sue me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Today is the worst day of the rest of your life.

How do you feel right now?

Well, cheer up. It's bound to get better. According to experts at Britain's Cardiff University, today is "Blue Monday," the unhappiest day of the year.

According to psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, a number of factors--from the number of days since Christmas and how long since you broke your New Year's resolutions, to the timing of your holiday credit card bill--have all conspired to make today the worst day of 2007.

You can read about it here.

I don't know. Personally, I'm feeling pretty good today. I paid for Christmas before Christmas, and I didn't really make any resolutions. I guess that's the secret.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Skin Deep

As the father of daughters, I was stopped in my tracks by this. Show it to people. Your sons, too.