Archive for May, 2009


Hot Coffee, Cold Commentary

So I was getting some coffee at the Queen Bean, and a woman was complaining about the air conditioning not working. The barista said they got an HVAC unit that was too small, because the engineer didn’t take into account that the coffee-making equipment would heat the place up. (That seems like a no-brainer to me, but what do I know.)

The woman suggested that maybe they should do a benefit concert to buy a bigger air conditioning unit. I pointed to the wall and said, “Yeah, maybe after they cure breast cancer.”

There was a poster for a concert to benefit breast cancer research on the wall: “Rock for the Boobies. Don’t let cancer steal 2nd base!”


anger manglement, er, i mean management

Enough said.


Mother’s Day inkblot test

So, as one of my mother’s day gifts, I took the comforter from our bed into the cleaners.

Over a year ago, I was trying to get some work done late at night and I fell asleep in bed with a pen in my hand.  I woke up with blots of ink all over the comforter, my hand, my arm, and the sheet.  

Not necessarily a big deal, except that my wife had spent a lot of time picking out the comforter, pillows, and sheets for our bed, and we painted our bedroom to match.  It was practically brand new.  She went out of town for a few days to take a class, and when she returned and saw the stain, she burst into tears.  

Of course, I felt terrible.  So, after a year (I know, I know) I finally followed through and took the comforter to the cleaners as a mother’s day present this year (shhhh!  don’t tell her).  It remains to be seen whether they can get the ink stain out.  I’ll pick it up tomorrow (Monday) and see how it turned out.  It should be ready for her when she returns from her trip on Tuesday night.  

Speaking of ink (love that segue), I took an inkblot test on Facebook and the result was “perfectly sane.”  When I told my wife, she broke into a laugh and questioned the validity of the test.


Poodles of Love

Well, it finally happened.  We had our puppy groomed, and she lost her beautiful brown and black puppy highlights.  (sigh)

So, now she’s a peach.  But at least her ears still have the dark patches on the ends.  I’ll post a pic soon.


An Era of Violence?

Last weekend, I took my youngest son to a Renaissance fair.  

It seemed like every other booth had lethal weapons for sale.  Knives, swords, battle axes, arrows, etc.  One person even gave us a little speech about the tactics and strategies for using medieval weapons, including a graphic description of how the archers would urinate on their arrows to cause infection, and how best to use a long-sword as a pike to stop a charging enemy.  My five-year old was entranced by the whole thing.  I kept trying to drag him away, but he wanted to hear more.  Since we don’t have any arrows or long-swords around the house, I suppose it didn’t do any harm.

But one of the other children insisted we go over to the archery range, where my boy expertly (so he perceived) shot a wicker deer.  (Environmentalist daddy cringed.)  

I thought, then, let’s go over to the mock sailing ship that they had set up by the pond.  That started out much better, with a young woman giving an amazing demonstration of how to use authentic navigation devices, such as a sextant, to find one’s way across the sea.

Then, however, it came time for the evening firing of the canon.  I thought it was to be one canon, but it turned out they had ten canons of various sizes all around the “boat,” and they fired them off in succession.  They showed us how to cup our ears rather than cover them, to avoid puncture of our ear drums.  I took my boy over to the side, where I imagined we would be further away, only to realize that the largest canon of all was right next to us.  

Isaiah did just fine, cupping his ears obediently, and jumping a few inches off the ground with the fire of every canon.

I guess that was a pretty violent time in the Middle Ages, but then today isn’t much better.  Some nights from our living room we hear the gunfire from a few blocks away.  Our next-door neighbors were burgled a couple of days ago at 3:30 in the afternoon.  I had left at about 2:15 to pick up my boys from school, and it happened by the time I returned at around 4:00.  They went through two doors and napped their VCR.  Now, they have security doors on all their entrances, a security system in the house, and motion sensors on their lights outside (although this wouldn’t have done any good at 3:00 in the afternoon).

Our neighbors keep telling us that the people who lived in our house before us moved out because someone threw a brick through their window.  They also said that our neighbors across the street kept coming into our house while it was vacant and taking various things.

Down the street, there are always a group of young men hanging out, and a few weeks ago there were four police cars with their lights on in front of one house.

So, before I go judging past eras for violence, today isn’t much better.  We think we’ve grown and progressed, but I’m not so sure.  We’re responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths because of our military campaigns over the last few years.  Is the armor our soldiers wear much different from the armor worn in previous eras?  Armor is a privileged defense.  Most people in the world are armed with nothing more than their skin and perhaps some garden tools.  

My mother’s Mennonite background has instilled a deep commitment to pacifism in me.  And yet violent movies and animated TV shows seem to make a case for getting even, for retribution, and for violence.  My older son struggles with these messages.

So, I sat my boys down the other day and said I was going to read something to them from the Bible.  They groaned.  I said, “Well, would you rather clean the toilets?”  So, they gave in.  I count it a source of great pride that I have trained my boys well enough that they prefer reading the Bible to cleaning toilets.

Anyways, I read them the passage where Jesus goes to the garden, Judas betrays him, a disciple cuts of the ear of one of the scribes’ slaves, and Jesus tells them to cut it out and heals the slave’s ear.  See?  Jesus didn’t come to overthrow or get revenge, he came to bring grace and forgiveness.

I didn’t read them the passage where Jesus says he came to bring a sword to separate families and peoples.  They can find that for themselves later and come back and say, “But, Dad!  Look!”  

My oldest son informed me that the passage I read to them wasn’t really a sword fight, but just one person with a sword cutting of somebody’s ear.  But I think he got the point I was trying to make.  I can only hope.


Funny preacher, or inspirational comedian?

Hi everyone.  

Sorry for the delay in posting.  I’ve been working hard, getting lots of gigs, unfortunately very few of them paid.  

The good news is that I’m making lots of great contacts, and business is growing.  

One gig has opened a few doors.  I’ve been looping for a comedy show the Barkin’ Dog bar and grill in Modesto, and getting some exposure.  Even though there were only three or four paying customers last Thursday night, one of them may hire me for a gig in May that could open some more doors.  I don’t know where all of these doors may lead, but as long as God keeps opening them I guess I’ll keep going through.  

I do sort of feel like I’m living several lives at once, sometimes.  Integrating all of these various activities can be challenging.  For example, at the comedy show, I have been surprise how much stand-up comedy resembles preaching.  The question is, am I a really funny preacher or an inspiration comedian?  Maybe a bit of both.  

I’ve looped at the Queen Bean a few more times, and am getting some gear together to make my equipment safe, and improve my sound.  Basically, I have four regular gigs now, but none of them pay.  Two are basically open-mic gigs, and two are church-related:  one is the monthly jazz service at the 1st United Methodist Church, and the other is a Taize service at the College Avenue Congregation Church.  

And then there’s the occasional preaching opportunity as well, and sharing music on Sunday mornings as a guest musician.  I led the music at my home church last weekend, and wondered if a prophet would be welcome in his hometown – it worked out just fine (i.e., not one person threatened to throw me off a cliff).  

But amidst all of the work and development of this arts ministry business; amidst the fulfillment that comes from using the gifts God has given me; the most important part of my life remains a work in progress – being a husband and father to an incredible family.

My wife is doing incredible ministry – helping to start new churches and pastoring a congregation.  I’m so proud of her, even though between the two of us, our busy schedules sometimes make it hard to connect.  

And my boys have been struggling with behavior at school.  When my youngest was born so prematurely, I struggled with figuring out how to be a father to a baby in an incubator.  Now, I wonder how to be a father to my two boys who are both so gifted.  I think they get bored at school, and are both extremely competitive (I have no idea where they get that – oh, wait, from both of their parents, I guess.).  

Anyways, I’m just trying to be the best model I can be.  Simon has been trying to “get even” at school with people who he thinks have done him harm.  So, I sat him down and read the passage about when Jesus healed the ear of the slave who one of Jesus’ followers had struck with a sword.  The boys were both pretty attentive.  It’s hard to get through to them, when all of the shows they watch seem to be about retributive justice and getting revenge on “the bad guys.”  I think they got what I was trying to say.  Jesus didn’t come to beat the bad guys, but to save them with grace and forgiveness.  Sure, it’s good to be strong, but its better to be compassionate.