Monday, February 28, 2011

Snow Shovel Training Mishap

I, like my parents before me, and their parents before them, adhere to the philosophy that children are never more a blessing than when they can serve a practical purpose. For example, I'm counting down the days until my son can mow the yard. What a glorious day that will be.

Well, in preparation for this dream to come true, I draw on another time honored tradition that dates back to my ancestors, and that's the philosophy that it's never too early to start getting them ready. Why wait until their "old enough" before we start their training? Nonsense. That's why I recently decided to initiate training for my one-year-old on how to shovel snow from the driveway. Sadly, as this video shows, it went horribly wrong.

There's always next year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deadleaf Chronicles

Many winds, many rains, and many snow falls have passed since the days of the fallen leaf. And who would really care? Many rejoice that we have moved on beyond the raking and removal of those pesky deciduous garments. But at what cost? Are the frozen days of winter better? Is shoveling driveways preferred to raking? I daresay not. So let us turn our thoughts back to the days of autumn. And many will find that those crisp, cool, sun-drenched days of hay rides and bonfires bring back more than memories of a perennial season. Instead, they call to our minds memories of a season in our lives when a pile of leaves was more than a chore.

These tales will carry our hearts and minds not merely back to warmer days of harvest, but to the simpler and carefree days of childhood. These are the The Deadleaf Chronicles.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Great Moments in Sports

I have waited agonizing months to shine the spotlight of acclaim on one of the greatest athletic achievements in my sports-recognition-starved life. I take you back to Thanksgiving, 2010. It happened in my brother-in-law's basement, where there stands a basketball shootout game, my instrument of glory, my vehicle to infamy.

As we basked in the afterglow of turkey and brownies, this machine beckoned me. I answered its call. And for two days I gave myself completely to the dream of domination - a shimmering jewel of bragging rights to dangle above the heads of my father, two brother-in-laws... and my children. With a fixed gaze, and stone-like resolve, I entered the zone again and again. Time and time over I raised the bar for a 60 second score. First it was 60. Soon I was breaching the 70's. It wasn't long before I shattered the 80's. The 90's, however, took some time. But that, too, was a milestone I claimed for my own, reaching a score of 94 in just 60 short seconds. That's 47 buckets in a minute!

But 60 seconds is for boys. Last time I checked the dictionary, I'm a man. It was time for me to compete in the man's game: a five-minute round. Or as some have called it, The Widow Maker. This is where winners become champions, where mortals become giants. This was my destiny.

With blisters on my fingers, and stuffing in my stomach, I stepped up to the shootout and picked my poison. The Widow Maker awaited. "5:00" appeared on the clock, and the signal sounded. Furiously, I sent those miniature basketballs to their netted hoop home. Five minutes went by like mere seconds, and my round was brought to an end at the sound of the buzzer. I looked at my score: 450.

That's an average of 90 points per minute. Those who dared to witness this feat informed me that I hit 96 in one of those minutes. This is truly a monumental achievement of athletic prowess. Did it happen over night? Actually, it did. Nonetheless, it's a record that has stood the test of time.  Now I know exactly how Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, and other legendary champions feel. And it feels good.

But I've said too much.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Fruit of Heaven

Legend tells of an age when mankind was suffering. Their lands were desolate, their stomachs were empty. What little food they found was bitter, like the earth, eaten only for sustenance, no joy was to be had in it. Then God, in the midst of their tribulation, heard their cries for help. He reached down to them and eased their misery with the perfect sandwich, the Philadelphia Cheesesteak from Penn Station. And the people rejoiced.

But then some of them began to grumble. Some cried out for chicken, others for ham. "We want to eat fresh!" they cried in their insolence. And so God afflicted them with Subway. After countless lettuce-filled foot-longs on Italian bread, Penn Station faded from memory. Stories turned to rumors, rumors turned to legend. And some things that should never be forgotten passed from memory. And everyone died.

I just made that up.

But here's a fact: the cheesesteak from Penn is the greatest sandwich on the planet. True story: sometime in the not so distant past, I discovered that you could get an 8" cheesesteak for under $3. The results were almost disastrous. Nevertheless, it remains my favorite sandwich. If there was any possible way to literally live inside food, I would live inside a Philly Cheesesteak from Penn. If I could name my children after a food item, they would be Philly for a girl, and Cheese Steak for a boy. If I were elected the president of health and nutrition for America, I would designate a whole new food group: The Cheesesteak group. It would be the best food group of them all.

I'm still trying to convince my wife, however, that Philadelphia is in Pennsylvania.

I said too much.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Coolest Graphic I'll Never Use

In my past life, I was a bit of a graphic designer. And before you go and label me a Hindu, you need to understand that past life is simply a playful reference to my years as a woman living in Bangalore during the turn of the nineteenth century.

I kid.

In all seriousness, however, there was a time in my present life when I earned an honest man's wages designing graphics - and thus, I became a graphic designer. Actually, my titles were web designer and art director, which are both occupations in which graphic design is put to use.

Now that I'm a man of the cloth, however, I find that my dabbling in the graphic arts is a skill that is still put to good use... and I find immense enjoyment in that. But this post isn't about that... well, to be fair, this post is about that. More specifically, this post is about one of the many occupational hazards inherent to the role of graphic designer: hair loss associated with Sudden Rage Syndrome (SRS to those in the field). Allow me to illuminate you on this, if I may.

Graphic designers are, by nature of their trade, artists who revel in all that is creative. In fact, many of them are artists who simply want to not starve, and so they enter the world as graphic designers with dreams of using their creative prowess to dazzle consumers. What they find, however, is an industry that is ruled by the corporate man, wrought with "identity standards," and subject to finicky marketing directors who may or may not have a clue what real creative genius looks like.

I'm starting to digress. Let me cut to the chase.

It's fairly common for the graphically inclined to be commissioned with a project - say, a new logo, a magazine ad, or a graphic for an upcoming series at church (purely hypothetical) - and then to invest hours of artistic exertion and masterful designery on said hypothetical project, only to have it take a sudden and tragic new direction that leaves all your hard work for not.

Rage! Hair loss! Gnashing of teeth!

And so I present to you a graphic that was designed for our Christmas Eve service. So much work went into taking the tree from one photo, and adding it to prison cell (that's what that is... a prison cell). Hours were spent in Photoshop to make this look as real as possible. Shadows were simulated, lighting effects were rendered, heart and soul were poured out... only to be dashed to pieces in the final hours with a sudden change of direction. Good or bad, it was mine... and now, however fleeting it may be, it will have it's glory day in the hot sun.

I've said too much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

Countless hours of watching BSG on Netflix (that's right... I used the authentic colonial military abbreviation for Battlestar Galactica) has left me postless, and therefore readerless... and, incidentally, wondering if I'm a Cylon... or married to one.

So say we all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'm Spitting Angry - Or At Least Very Irritated

SERIOUS ALERT: This post is serious. You've been warned.

Before you read this post, stop what you're doing, and read this blog post. If you fail to do so, the following won't make much sense at all... which would make it just another post on a blog founded upon a strong value in all that is nonsense. Regardless, my response to said blog (click link above) is below.

I read McCracken's article several weeks ago, and haven't stopped thinking about it since. It really bothered me, to be honest. The truth is that I agree with him at the root of his argument - if we're only trying to be cool, then we're wasting a lot of time, energy, and money - all of which precious kingdom resources that shouldn't be squandered. But what bothered me was how presumptuous and judgmental his article was. 
In my opinion, the reason why young people leave the church today is because - if they've spent any amount of time in the church - they've likely been exposed to the two-faced, infighting, backstabbing, judgmental legalism that sadly prevails in many of American churches, where we can be more concerned about the color of the carpet or the style of music than about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm afraid that McCracken's post only proves that point. 
I would have been fine if he spoke more to the principal. But when he started naming pastors and churches and reducing their ministries to mere "shock tactics" and attempts at being cool, he lost me. 
The truth of the matter is that I don't lead a church in Seattle, or L.A., or Vegas... but God has entrusted that role to guys like Driscol and Wilhite and McManus - all of whom I would first assume are leading their congregations according to the Holy Spirit's prompting... and are doing the best they can to be masters within their context. I love the fact that Mosaic meets in a night club. Can you imagine how many people attend that church who would never step foot in a church otherwise? I honestly believe that's the kind of church Jesus himself would go to... didn't he intentionally spend time among the prostitutes, the tax collectors and the lepers? I love it when I hear of churches incorporating Twitter and text messaging into their worship services... it's the language of the day! To refuse it and look down on it is like trying to spread the gospel in China, but refusing to speak Chinese! 
The reality is that any time we place ourselves in a position of presuming the motives, the heart, and the intent with which another godly man is leading, then we're no better off than the Pharisees... and I believe that's why young people are leaving the church... too many Pharisees. 
In my opinion, McCracken said that we need churches that are real... but he criticized the churches that are doing it.