Archive for November, 2005|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2005 at 1:55 pm

memorandum from captain random:

on monday afternoon thomas, one of my after school kids, said that he needed a copy of the boston globe for a school assignment. when i inquired about the nature of the assignment thomas said, “i need to cut out the right wing and the left wing.” i found this statement more than a bit confusing, so i asked him to clarify. “the left and right wing of what?” i asked. “are you referring to advertisements or something?” “no,” thomas tersely replied, “i am talking about right wing and left wing perspectives.” “okay,” i said, “what can you tell me about the right wing.” “they hate change,” thomas quickly replied. “alright,” i continued, “what current political group embraces right wing policies?” “i dunno,” thomas said thoughtfully, “the fascists?”

while sitting on a lifeway crapper yesterday, i read a couple of the brief biographies of emergent leaders that is included in gibbs and bolger’s emerging churches. reflecting upon his early attempts to plant churches in san francisco, mark scandrette offers that “my retrospective assessment is that it is hard to create something healthy and sustainable during a personally deconstructive phase” (appendix a, pg. 305). i found this statement quite prescient. i think that a number of us who are involved in the emergent conversation would do well to spend some time reflecting upon this statement and asking the Spirit of God to lead us from a place of thoroughgoing deconstruction to a place of missional creativity.

i picked up a copy of lyle lovett’s Joshua, judges and ruth out of the bargain bin at vagabond records and have been thoroughly impressed with the album. I am constantly amazed by (a) the quality of contemporary Americana music, (b) the overwhelming riches of classic country – thinking of the carters, cash and even a little george jones here, and (c) the fact that most people back home and in the backwoods new england states leave these riches undisturbed in order to listen to hacks like kenny chesney, cowboy troy and rascal flatts.

i may or may not know someone who just named their firstborn son “ranger denny.” for a long time i have thought that the creative name game was a little cracked, but now i’ve been converted! what wonderful combination of a civil service profession and common american name are you going to bestow upon your firstborn? kellie and i have settled on “crossing-guard carol” if we have a girl and “lifeguard lenny” if we have a boy.

in emerging churches karen ward of the church of the apostles in seattle likens the emerging church to “‘a road of destination’ where Christ followers, formerly of divergent pasts, are meeting up in the missional present and moving together toward God’s future.” isn’t that a fantastic definition?


In Uncategorized on November 30, 2005 at 1:19 am

photographic evidence

going home is always a bit of a blessing and a curse. it is a blessing to eat my mom’s fried cornbread, rest my head on my grandfather’s shoulder and needle my baby cousin. however, it is a bit of a curse to be constantly confronted with what a confounded, arrogant, presumptuous little i once was.

regarding the latter, a case in point. on friday kellie and i had the opportunity to dig through tons of family photographs at my grandmother’s house. i was surprised to find pictures of my grandfather flying his L-9, depression era snapshots of my grandmother and ad hoc family photographs of my father when he was young.

unfortunately, as we continued to work our way through the photographs, deliberately moving from the past to the present, i was rather startled by the photographic evidence of myself. in almost every picture i corrupted there was an easily distinguishable arrogance in my eyes and a clean angle of a nose that rested well above the horizontal. originally i assumed that this particular pose was the result of the rather aggressive form of camera shyness that i have long struggled with. however, as the evidence began to mount, i was forced to conclude that i was indeed a arrogant, presumptuous little

the boy in those photos thinks he has the world’s number and is destined for a life of nobility. little did he know that he was embarking upon a life that would be riddled with humiliation, confusion and a constant call to sacrifice and slave on behalf of a suffering servant.

i would like to think that if the boy i once was knew what i now know hospitality instead of hostility would have issued forth from his eyes and his stoic, staid nose would have been lowered and perhaps krinkled with a loving grin. but of course, there’s nothing i can do about the past.

however, by God’s grace, i can do something about the present…so from now on i’m setting out on a photographic expedition in hopes that i will find a man whose eyes are open with hospitality, grin betrays good humor and arms are a symbol of a perpetual embrace.

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2005 at 1:01 pm


death is our constant. occasionally it confronts us in its chilly, final form, but more often is surprises us with its subtlety. a friendship, once treasured, unravels due to nothing so much as a lack of use. a family tradition, worn and comfortable, wears out as the atomic weight of extended family breaks us down into nuclear units. a dream once enshrined in our hearts and our heads vanishes due to a lack of industry or, perhaps even more confounding, an excess of ambition. perhaps the reason we fear corporeal death is the final act averts our attention from the innumerable fucked up scenes that comprise our ordinary lives.

we are people of the resurrection because we could not continue otherwise. as saint paul reminds us, if there is no opportunity beyond unemployment, love beyond abandonment, and life beyond our concrete crypts, we are people to be pitied.

so let us keep our eyes and hearts peeled for the resurrections that issue forth from our ordinary lives. if we have no expectation of or inclination towards these ordinary resurrections we might find it difficult to experience and, perhaps, participate in the resurrection par excellance.

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2005 at 10:45 pm

thanksgiving highlights and lowlights

kellie and i are currently stationed in the town called yellow and we are about halfway through our thanksgiving trip. so, i thought it would be nice to post some of the highlights and lowlights of the trip thus far.

j’s highlight: starting off our trip with a magical bang by seeing the goblet of fire at the imax in redding. although i had a few minor quibbles with the film (i.e., the transitions were awful and cho should have been a little more sultry), i thought they nailed the graveyard scene (ralph or raef or raif – whatever the hell his name is was excellent) and generally honored the tone and plot of the book.

j’s lowlight: realizing that book 7 will not be released for more than a year.

j’s highlight: on sunday morning i had the opportunity to preach at my home congregation. there is nothing quite like preaching in front of a group of people who know everything about your misdemeanors and mania. if experiences like that don’t strike the fear of God in a person i do not know what will. anyway, the sermon went remarkably well and was even met at a one point with applause…which was surprising since i was basically calling myself and the congregation to repentance. i am incredibly thankful for the experience. perhaps i should write sermons in airports more often.

j’s highlight: sharing a cup of coffee, life and ministry experiences, a late lunch and a few hopes and dreams with agent b. i am constantly amazed by the quality of people that God has called into this ministry of subversion. agent b it was an honor to make your acquaintance.

k’s lowlight: food shopping with my mother-in-law. we made our way to the check-out and were greeted by the cashier. “how ya’ll doin’ today?” “i’m doing great,” juli responded, “my kids are here from boston and I’m so excited.” eager to make conversation the cashier prompted, “boston, new york?” juli looked at her blankly “huh?” And then the cashier repeated it, “boston, new york.” “no” juli corrected, “massachusetts. boston, massachusetts.” juli later said that it is no wonder that woman is employed checking groceries. i quite agree. and while i dearly love my mother-in-law, shopping in the south-west is quickly becoming a quarantined low-light experience.

j and k’s highlight: taking a fantastic ride in a 1940 Consolidated B-24a Liberator. my dad is the crew chief on this beautifully maintained, oldest continually flying airplane in the western hemisphere, but neither kellie or i had ever had the opportunity to ride in it. i was able to stand in the cockpit during takeoff – for a big bird, “diamond lil” almost leaps into the air – and kellie sat in the cockpit during landing. the hum of the radial engines, the panoramic view of tulsa, standing in the cockpit with my father, rushing from nose to tail to peek out of every window…that is one experience neither of us will soon forget. thanks dad! now we would like to request a ride in the B-29.

j’s highlight: gorging on southern food, including: cj’s famous fried chicken, fried okra, brown beans and fried cornbread, hickory smoked steaks and sausages and, tonight, authentic mexican food.

j’s lowlight: the twisting, steaming stool samples that such foods have produced.

j’s lowlight: paying $2.85 for a gallon of 86 octane in happy – “the town without a frown” – texas. that little town of 681 souls and, especially, the happy folk at the main street texaco can shove those smiles straight up their arses!

j’s highlight: sitting beside a man in the airport who specified, in minute detail, the wonders of the devil’s rope museum in maclean, texas.

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2005 at 9:58 pm

off to indian territory and this turkey’s state for thanksgiving

i’ll try to update periodically.

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2005 at 4:22 pm

expectations are funny things

i ran into an old friend a couple of weeks ago. she is a children’s minister at a church which has been embroiled in conflict and, for a while, seemed on the verge of division. after we embraced and exchanged the small pleasantries that serve as foreplay for conversation, she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “so how’s dying treating you?” how’s that for an unexpected climax? i didn’t immediately understand her question, but a moment of reflection helped me make the connection.

my friend was equating ministry – this kenotic life of compassion and proclamation – with dying. i think her connection is a good one. perhaps even essential.

those of us who follow Christ have been called to pursue death in hopes that we might be surprised by life. we’ve been told to empty ourselves completely, so that we might eventually be filled. we’ve been called to shelve our ambition in order to wade knee deep into our own, and other people’s, e.o.e. sometimes we Christ-followers fool ourselves by expecting happiness, a sense of meaning or at least a bit of contentment upon this journey. but none of those are promised. death, on the other hand, is.

so let’s fix our expectations on and continue to pursue death in hope that we might eventually, and unexpectedly, be caught up in and written into the eternal song of life.

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2005 at 2:58 pm

identifying as well as inciting missional churches

on saturday morning, while i was staffing a small fly-in at riverside airport in tulsa and helping prepare for the commemorative air force’s (or CAF’s) big hangar dance that night, i met an elderly man named jim. jim is a distinguished military veteran, an evangelistic proponent of a piece of evangelical drivel that is known as The Tulsa Beacon and a passionate composer and performer of both Christian and “secular” music (he designates the latter as secular because they focus on human love. a lot of them, i suspect, feature an accordion). but none of jim’s hobbies or his steady handed support of the CAF interests me as much as his commitment to Christian mission.

the moment jim heard that i was some sort of pastor, he told me that in the past two years he has been a part of two different church plants. the first one was a fairly traditional, $300,000 down, more on the back-end and meets in a school gymnasium type of plant. however, the second is a small, mission oriented church that meets in a hangar out at riverside airport. when i asked jim why the second church, which he has recently made his official church home, meets at the airport he simply shrugged and said something like “that’s where the people are.” although i doubt john would put it this way, he is committed to taking the church to communities instead of asking the community to come to the church. i think that willingness to incarnate the church in different contexts and enculturate the body of Christ in the midst of particular sub-cultures is an essential part of being a missional Christian.

i think there are a number of Christians like jim, even in the gleamin’ brass buckle of the Bible belt, who are as missional as emergent folk, but don’t use our language. i think it is as important for us to identify these missional initiatives and perhaps even partner with them as it is for us to incite missional communities and initiatives of our own. to paraphrase rick warren (and so risk excommunication from the emergent elite:), if God is raising up a missional wave around the world, we best ride it.

other highlights and lowlights from the weekend:

highlight: seeing my pops in his element. my dad is a master organizer, shameless ham and effective leader. never was this more apparent than this weekend. way to go dad!

lowlight: waiting for 12 minutes (that’s right 12!) to purchase a pair of tennis shoes at the local kohls. guess how many people were ahead of me in line? 2! in the midst of the weekend someone said that the food service at the oklahoma-italiano bistro we were eating at was a bit slow. if i was an uncharitable man, i’d say that everything in oklahoma runs a bit slow. but i’m not an uncharitable kind of guy.

highlight: hearing my baby cousin, lindsay, croon big band standards before a full dance floor and a hangar full of at least 1,100 people. i would piss my pants if i had to do that.

lowlight: being lured into political conversations (the magic word today, kids is: massachusetts!) with individuals who learned their reason and logic from rush limbaugh. if i was uncharitable i’d say that the majority of political wags in oklahoma don’t know their appendixes from their arseholes. but i’m not uncharitable, so i’ll just say that i wish that all of us, right and left, would learn to respect the political opinions of others and discuss our differences in a reasonable way.

highlight: carpenter winning the cy young (even without my staunch, principled advocacy). he was the first redbird since gibson in ’68 to bring that award back into the nest. now that pujols has been awarded the mvp we have our first consecutive cy young/mvp season since ’68. i may or may not have a clipping from the post-dispatch hanging up in my cubicle right now. moreover, i may or may not want becky to pick me up a copy of today’s pd, so that i can make my post-season award wallpaper complete.

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2005 at 4:47 pm

description of the day

The Left Behind movies have raised the bar for end times thrillers. The first two films in this series have featured intriguing plot lines, high-tech special effects and stellar performances from a cast that features Kirk Cameron. Now, we are pleased to announce that the third installment of this series, Left Behind: World at War is available on DVD and video. The Left Behind films will challenge your unbelieving friends and family to make a decision for Christ and encourage you as you eagerly await the Lord’s return. Don’t delay, pick up World at War and additional end times thrillers today!

see what $3,500 additional dollars can compel a man to do? sometimes, i want to shoot myself.

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2005 at 5:29 am

flight 683

patchwork quilt
roads radiate
towns separate
slowly reconcile

whining engine
mouth cotton
vivid dreams
future forgotten

returning home
an illusion
beverly or tulsa
willful collusion

won’t be long
don’t get comfortable
the coup’s a comin’
You’re responsible.

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2005 at 9:12 pm

more memorandum from captain random:

while riding home for lunch yesterday, n.p.r. talked about the conventions of american “contractors” which often meet at the Hyatt Amman Hotel in Jordan. this report follows on the heels of two years worth of discussions about the number of american “contractors” in iraq, the unfortunately tragic hanging of american “contractors” in iraq, etc. every time we hear reporters talking about american “contractors” we should remember that most of these men and women are former army rangers, navy seals and marines who are serving in highly armed security details and even occasionally interrogating iraqi prisoners. in short, most of the “contractors” are domestic mercenaries. i know this note may sound a bit like quibbling, but i believe that it is important identify a person and explain their function correctly. by referring to them as “contractors” we are insulating ourselves from reality. america has anywhere between 20 – 40,0000 domestic mercenaries working in iraq. my hunch is that these particular “contractors” far outnumber the plumbers, engineers and aluminum siders working to rebuild the country. i’m not looking to pick a fight, i’m just interested in accurate reporting.

i have a confession to make: i have an ATM handicap. i have left my debit card in a local ATM machine not once, not twice, but four times in the past six months. moreover, as much as i would like to blame my fiscal failure on the machine, the truth constrains me from doing so. i have not only lost debit cards to the beverly co-op bank, but have left them at the local bank of america branch as well. i am so ashamed! maybe i should go on oprah.

okay, i have two confessions. since taking the copywriter position here at lightway i’ve really enjoyed my job. my day has gone crazy, i have more responsibilities than i can manage and i feel like i am constantly working in areas that are outside of my actual skill set…and i am loving it. who knew that i could enjoy life at lightway?

to balance that last note, i would like to encourage those of you who currently hate your jobs. i personally know of two amazingly creative individuals, bill james of bill james’ abstract and sabr fame, and harvey pekar, the author of american splendor, who have openly confessed to utilizing the lull periods at their daily occupations, bill worked for van kamp baked beans and pekar for the veteran’s administration, as opportunities to write, create, study and explore their vocations. i am not encouraging you should read flaubert, edit your indie films or examine folios of abstract art while you’re on the clock, but they certainly are.

okay, i’m off to indian territory. i’ll try to provide periodic updates this weekend.

%d bloggers like this: