Wednesday, January 26, 2011


At small group tonight, we covered part of Matthew 16. Jesus talks about embracing the suffering in life and dying to ourselves, becoming more selfless, less self centered.

Why embrace suffering? I think one of the main points is learning empathy for your fellow human beings. Nothing unites us like suffering.

On my way home I tuned into NPR. They were talking to an elderly woman. She is trying to survive on Social Security, Medicare, and Food Stamps. Her housing costs are higher than her Social Security earnings. The only food she has comes from her monthly food stamp allotment and what she can gather from a local food pantry. She’s behind on her rent. Medicare doesn’t cover copays, and neither can she.

She stated that purchasing a bar of soap would be a luxury most months. That hit home. We’ve been donating things like soap for almost a year now to local shelters. I always feel like it’s not enough, or that we’re flooding them with silly soap, but maybe not.

The interviewer went on to ask her about the current state of our country. You see, her parents had survived the Great Depression, and she remembers living through World War II, when times were likely tougher. She said, back then, people pulled together as communities. Those who had more, shared. It wasn’t perfect, but she’s not seeing that kind of thing now, not on such a wide scale, not with such selflessness.

Prodded further she shared that she believed we’ve undergone too wide of a disconnect between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. She said we’re too afraid of one another. Neighbors don’t even check in on neighbors. Fear of so many things, terrorism, violence, money scams, holds us back from helping one another.

I couldn’t help but think, this was exactly what Jesus was talking about. We fear the suffering. As a friend of mine would say, we insulate ourselves, comfort our own lives.

Because we have not suffered along side the have-nots, we have a disconnect. We lose any empathy. We don’t want to see other people’s problems because we seem to think that trouble might be contagious.

I don’t think Jesus was necessarily saying that those that have plenty should give it all up so they can understand the poor. I think he was saying that, when trouble hits, learn from it. When it hits other people, come along side them, not just to help, but to learn and experience it. Learn to have that empathy so you’re not afraid but empowered to give when and what you can. I think empathy kills off some of that fear too. In its absense, love and community can grow. It would be nice to live in a world where a 50¢ bar of soap isn’t a luxury.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Randomness: Freedoms, Insecurities incited by my wife, Olsen family…

  • The Olsen twins have siblings? And someone allows them to be stars too? Do they need more money?
  • Did you know they make all kinds of different milk? If you don't want regular old, from a cow, dairy milk, you can buy almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk that tastes like dairy milk, and non-dairy, lactose free, who knows what's really inside milk too. I haven't tried the last one, but the rest taste just fine as long as you get them sweetened in some way. Plain is… plain.
  • My kids love it when my wife and I play video games. Super Mario is especially fun for them to watch. We do let them try to play, but they don't like that as much.
  • Let me state this, I'm not a gun person. That doesn't mean that I think everyone should give up their guns or that it should be near impossible for normal people to own them. I totally understand hunting rifles. The personal protection stuff… well, you probably don't want me to get into that.
  • Having said all this, I just don't understand why, when something public and violent happens involving guns, it's immediately inappropriate for people to start asking questions about gun regulations. As long as normal, non-criminal, sane people can still buy guns, why can't we talk about making it harder for crazy, felony convicted people to get guns?
  • I heard one interview with a gun dealer. He had been coaching people on how to fill out the ownership application. He didn't see how that was a problem, circumventing the safety procedures. I lose sleep over poor grocery store etiquette. This guy doesn't lose sleep over possibly selling fire arms to people that shouldn't have them?
  • I guess I feel similarly about violent rhetoric. I believe in free speech. I hate when people start talking about banning violent video games, but I also feel like, do you really want that nagging at you for the rest of your life? Maybe something you said set someone off? The wrong person was listening? Wouldn't it be easier to just not say these things so we don't even have to debate their effect?
  • I believe in a Judgement of sorts that will come from God someday. I imagine that there will be tons of people there that we didn't even realize we'd wronged waiting to testify in some way. I imagine that many of these people never even crossed physical paths with us. Our actions have arms of their own don't they?
  • I think it's sad that in 2011 the President's wife has to tell us to teach our kids to be more tolerant people.
  • I love that current country musicians are writing songs about Johnny and June.
  • Some things my wife makes me insecure about:
  • I'm often worried that something is hanging from my nose even when it isn't. It likely has something to do with the increased level of nose hair I'm experiencing and it's supernatural re-growth speed. Oh, and my wife always tells me up front when she sees anything out of place in my nose. I actually appreciate that. It just makes me paranoid.
  • On many, many occasions, I've returned home from some social event to have my wife ask whether or not I knew that I hadn't used enough deodorant or worn a shirt that clearly was too odorous to leave the house. She does, however, never let me leave the house in clothes that don't match. She catches that prior to my departure. We have to work on the odor thing. I DO SHOWER EVERY DAY.
  • I'm always afraid that my clothes look too "eighties." I think she really means nineties.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mocking He-man

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

Critics did call the original He-man cartoon little more than an animated toy commercial, but the critics very obviously never compared the show to the toys produced. Because Filmation cut costs by reusing animation cells, many characters were rarely if ever seen in the cartoon. Some characters looked completely different in animated form because the characters were added prior to the toys being released. The accessories that appeared bore even less resemblance to the actual toys.

The show was actually full of heroes and villains that never saw plastic counterparts. You were more likely to see non-toy characters.

The show was also sugary sweet in a lot of ways. Characters weren't allowed to interact violently or cause injury to one another. Even as a kid I picked up on this. Every episode also had a moral which sometimes really hindered an otherwise interesting story line. In the sappier episodes, there would be singing. As barbaric and heavily armed as the toy line was, that clearly didn't carry over into the cartoon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Random Post: He-man, Pat Robertson, and that annoying Toyota Highlander Kid

  • That Toyota Highlander kid, the one that mocks other kids for riding in "lesser" vehicles, I don't like him. I'm not sure how this is a good marketing strategy.
  • One of the coolest things I received for Christmas was a classic, 1970's styled pair of Star Wars pajama pants. They rock.
  • On a related note: The Iron Man PJ pants someone gave me are like butter. 'Nuff said.
  • Bronner's is a Christmas decorations specialty store in our area. Do they have these in other states? We have two in our general area. Anyway, a group of younger people decided to vandalize the place this Christmas causing an estimated $40,000 worth of damage. Not a smart or kind act.
  • One of the owners was quoted on the local news the following day. He said that anyone who would attack the spirit of Christmas during this time should be properly punished. I have to admit, in my opinion, in the spirit of Christmas, the owner should forgive the people that did this. In the true spirit of things, he should wash his hands of it. If local law enforcement must punish them, then they must, but one of the ultimate meanings of Christmas, in the true spirit of Christ's birth, undeserved forgiveness seems like the appropriate response.
  • My son seems to think we own stock in the Winter Glove industry. I think we're hovering around the ten pair of misplaced gloves mark. You think we'd get smart and only buy one color so we could match up the mis-mates.
  • I had an intensely proud moment one day, late last month. In the quiet of the day my youngest son, who is only 3, grabbed a small toy sword that was only about an inch long. He held it high over his head and said, "By uh hour of AySkull! I ave uh Owpurrr!!!" Over the next few days there were many fights in our house over who, in fact, was going to be He-man when both boys were playing together.
  • I'm turning my kids into dorks.
  • Pat Robertson endorses the legalization of marijuana? A lot of my facebook friends started posting things like, "Hey! Even the Christians are getting behind this issue!" Let me stop you right there, m'kay? As a Christian spokesperson, Mr. Robertson has kind of worn out any semblance of sanity. That was kind of out the door years ago. So, if you want him for your spokesperson, I wouldn't recommend it, but you can have him. I'm pretty sure he's gotten into a bad batch or two over the years. That might actually explain quite a lot.
  • Whether or not Christians should support the legalization of pot is a whole other can of worms. I'm just saying, the support of most TV Evangelists isn't something to celebrate.
  • As I tell people that my dad bought me a snow blower for Christmas, I've been getting congratulated a lot. It's like I won an award or achieved something. I had no idea.