28 February 2009

Walker Percy Quote

The word boredom did not enter the language until the 18th century. No one knows its etymology...Question: Why was there no such word before the 18th century?
a. Was it because people were not bored before the 18th century?
b. Was it because people were bored but did not have a word for it?
c. Was it because people were too busy staying alive to be bored?

Walker Percy from Lost in the Cosmos (The Last Self-Help Book)

Percy goes on to propose three additional answers, but they take up pages so I didn't include them. This question haunts me for three reasons.
1. I hear people complaining about boredom. I don't believe there is an answer to this. Most people say, "Well, let's go bowling, or to a movie, or to the mall, or to..." I have found myself saying things like, "You should ponder that" or "Think about what you just said." My responses are not popular. My response from now on: "You know, boredom did not enter the lexicon until the 18th century. HMMM." This type of response is very well received.
2. When I bring up the question to friends, there seems to be an underlying terror about the answer (or lack thereof).
3. I got my mouth washed out with soap by a babysitter when I was 11. My crime? Uttering these infamous words, "I'm bored." Oh, the humanity.

27 February 2009

Levi Brings a Tear to My Eye

I was working outside with my three year old son this morning. He was cleaning my truck. He looked at a paper towel he was using and asked me, with all kinds of seriousness , "Dad, is this garbage or recycle?" Levi, my boy, you've made me proud.

22 February 2009

Quote from The Chosen by Chaim Potok

One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain...by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain, he said. It destroys our self-pride, our arrogance, our indifference toward others. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend on the Master of the Universe.

This is the second of Potok's books I've read. My Name is Asher Lev was wonderful as well. Both books have profound things to say about family, community, and independence. This was a wonderful book about the importance of friendship and how pain is passed on from generation to generation.

I found the above quote and the content of the book to be helpful in my work. I definitely recommend it.

20 February 2009


It's happened twice now; me sitting, eating, working. Him yelling, cussing, killing. The first time was last month. He was sitting with his wife and 8 year old daughter. The little girl kept saying, "Dad, guess what happened at school today..." His response became predictable. "Nobody cares what happened at school. Stop talking and eat your dinner." Heartbreaking. It happened at McDonald's this morning. Different dad, four year old girl. Girl says, "Dad, I forgot to get my caramel dipping stuff for my apples." Dad pontificates, "Jesus Christ, you F---ING forget everything!" I sat in my seat, stunned. What do I do? Punch this guy in the neck...no, he could probably take me. I realized in that moment that I had just witnessed death. Murder is alive and well in the world and in the play area at McDonald's. I looked at this little one, curly hair, curious eyes. I saw her death before my eyes, slow, dull, blunt. I looked at the dad and wondered who first killed him, who was his murderer? And when did he go from killed to killer? Then I felt really heavy, stuck.

For all who are being killed, slowly.

For all who murder from their own pain.

Jesus Christ have mercy.

17 February 2009

Bonhoeffer Quote and Lent

It is laid upon every Christian. The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus' death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death. Whether with the first disciples we leave home and occupation in order to follow him, or whether with Luther we leave the monastery to enter a secular profession, in either case, the one death awaits us, namely, death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus' call.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Discipleship

I'm teaching on the season of Lent this weekend. It's a challenging topic to face at my home church. We're a group from many different backgrounds. As I was talking with some friends recently, we realized that most of our people are either from extreme Protestantism (we approach Lent-ish practice with skepticism) or former Catholic (we have had enough Lent already, thanks!) backgrounds. No way to play this one down the middle.

I've found so much healing and peace in Lent. I've experienced a lot of faith growth in seasons past. That said, I never look forward to it. At least not in the way I look forward to summer or the latest Justin Timberlake album. It's hard. It's not fun. I'm going to be talking some about the absolute unsellability of Lent (and really Christianity). If we had to develop a true sub-slogan for Lent (and Christianity), it would be COME AND DIE. Obviously, this is not the kind of slogan that is likely to increase market share...and here I go, getting all mad about the state of suburban faith.

Back to the Bonhoeffer quote. Why is it that deepening of faith is so often tied to deep suffering? If we are inviting people to suffer as Christ suffered, I feel like we need to have lived the answer to this question in some way.

12 February 2009

Always Keep Mystery & Other Musings by Coldplay

Coldplay is the best band in the world. One of the things I love about them is that every time I read or see an interview with them, they're funny and down to earth. This is a piece from a recent 60 minutes episode. Chris Martin does the bulk of the interview. Here are some of my favorite quips:

On defending yourself: You can either say, "It's not true," and leave it at that, or you can go on a 7-hour rant about why it's not true.

On the purpose of their job: Our goal is to make the perfect song. It's an impossible thing to do.

On why he is not a rock star: I'm not even a soft-rock star. I don't wear the right pants.

On their greatest talent: We rely on enthusiasm over talent.

On being called the greatest rock band currently working: It's probably true, but U2 comes off holiday next month.

On the meaning of Yellow: What's it about? Who knows? I can't quite work it out myself.

On doing interviews: We don't do them. One of our band rules is always keep mystery.

01 February 2009

Next Time You're Bored on a Sunday

I recommend going to Chick-Fil-A. Park your car near the drive through. Someone will drive through and begin ordering. They will then become frustrated at the lack of response. If you're lucky they'll start yelling. Soon they will realize that the store is closed. You will sit in your car laughing at them. You may feel bad for laughing, but it will likely be worth it.