Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

The other evening the wife & I were watching the season finale of Burn Notice on our DVR.  I thought it an apt metaphor for our current experience.  The main character, Michael Weston, is a spy who is blacklisted and dumped in Miami.  The show is about his quest to discover why he was blacklisted (false accusations), and how he helps people in need of his specialized skills on the way.

At times I feel blacklisted and dumped in central Florida.  This is all perception, not actuality.  I can’t seem to move forward and on.  It’s as if we are stuck here trying to make ends meet while using my specialized skills to help churches in need.  I can’t explain why we remain here- it is not through a lack of trying (I’ve lost track of the open positions for which I have applied).  But in the midst of this, I have to keep returning to 1 Peter 4:

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (NIV)

I am here by God’s will.  I am between calls by God’s will.  I can’t change things, but I can be responsible.  I continue to ‘do good’ or be obedient to Him and work for the good of the church.  I also entrust my family into the hands of my Faithful Creator and Redeemer.  I can’t sit and moan, withdrawing into a shell.  I can trust and continue to do what I’ve been called to do as opportunities permit.  And so I shall, even as I pray:

9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. … 14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. 16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. 17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; …19   (Ps. 31 NIV)How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.  (Ps. 33 NIV)

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I didn’t watch all of the MLB All-Star Game.  CavWife wanted to watch In Plain Sight, one of the summer shows we watch.  We discovered, much to our dismay, that our new DVR didn’t record the show Sunday night.  The record light was on… so we are mystified.  So we went to the USA website and watched it on-line.  Our new, higher speed internet worked much better than our previous attempts to watch episodes of Burn Notice we missed.  We upgraded to digital cable and higher speed internet to get the digital phone service.  It was $1 more than with standard cable.  We save about $50 over our combined internet/cable & Verizon bill.  So it made sense to bundle it.

While we watched the show- interrupted periodically by a child with issues- I kept my eye on the never-ending pre-game festivities.  Since this was the final year of Yankee Stadium, they pulled out all the stops.  Lots of Yankee hall of famers.  Not to be outdone by the Red Sox extravaganza back in ’99, they trotted out a feeble King George.  It was touching to see the warmth Yogi had for him.  But I didn’t notice any of today’s players around the league embracing him like they did Ted Williams.  But, I wasn’t engrossed so it could have happened.

After the show, CavWife got ready for bed so I actually watched the game.  When I went to bed, it looked like Matt “Trade Bait” Holliday might be the MVP for his solo shot.  It was 2-0 and the AL was doing … nothing.  I figured it was over and went to bed much in need of rest.

As it turns out, the Papel-flap was a non-issue.  Mariano Rivera did not get a chance to close the game.  But his pitching was important as the AL came back to put the game into extra innings.  The NL blew 2 save opportunities.  And in a beautiful twist of fate, or irony, the oft-maligned J.D. Drew -in his first All-Star game- got the last laugh, belting a 2 run homerun and stealing a base to lead the AL to victory.  The Red Sox player won the MVP award.

The controversy erupted on ESPN, again.  The great part is they’ll give the Brett Favre story a rest.  A few years ago the controversy was “how in the world can they have a tie in the All-Star game”.  Now the controversy is “how could they make those guys who pitched Sunday pitch since the game went to 15 innnings.”  Zzzzzzz.  Didn’t their managers know they were going to the All-Star game?  Did it shock them to realize they might have to actually pitch?  Hello?!

But I’m glad I didn’t try to watch this thing.  I didn’t need to be up until 2 am.  I am glad the AL gets homefield advantage again (I like that the games count!), and that one of the Sox was a key player in the game.  Great to see Pedroia and Youk in their first All-Star games.  These guys are known for hustle and grit.  They face every game and at bat as if it will be their last.  They leave it all on the field.  They will probably be in a few more of these games.

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While CavWife helped a friend pack for a cross-town move into their new home, I took the kids to the playground.  I hadn’t been there with them since March or April.  I was joyfully amazed at the progress CavGirl has made.  He was climbing the various ladders, without help, and going down the slides alone.  She even had me teach her how to climb the “rock” wall.  She did pretty well for a first timer.

CavSon did okay.  He’s still not excited about slides or swings.  They’ll grow on him.

They both enjoyed the deck that goes over the lake.  We saw plenty of fishes among the junk that had been tossed in.  You can’t swim at the beach anymore.  It is covered over with weeds on land and in the water.  Probably too hard to keep the gators away.  The beach was probably victim of a previous budget crunch.

The victims of the next budget crunch were sitting there the entire time we were there.  There were 3 emplyees from Leisure Services sitting, talking and reading.  Their job would be to play with neighborhood kids.  But there were no kids there.  Which is unfortunate- it was an overcast day so it wasn’t mind-numbingly hot, and we saw a bunch of kids down the street.

CavGirl has experienced a number of falls off her bike lately.  Tumbles in general.  She’s got a cut on her big toe that keeps opening up.  She did a good job banging up a finger.  She rides too fast and tries to turn.  We are still working on actually stopping to look both ways before entering the road.

She is currently engrossed in Jon & Kate Plus 8 while CavWife taught aerobics.  She loves watching all the kids.  She just calls it watching the kids.  We now have a video tape dedicated to the show.

His speech therapy is going okay.  He’s trying.  He can make the ‘p’ sound, but has not yet integrated it into actual words.  But the therapist isn’t happy.  He disagrees with the surgeon regarding the need to repair the fistula.  We have decided: 1. he has little experience with cleft palate kids, 2. he is not taking CavSon’s speech in context (here 6 months, this is his 2nd language, undergoing major surgery…).  So, when we return from vacation, we should have a new speech therapist to work with him.

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We’ve been putting the kids on a chair in the living room to discipline them when they are having crying/screaming fits.  CavSon was in rare form tonight, refusing to say “please” (he knows the sign for please).  It was a battle of the wills, and he was screaming pretty loudly.

It began when he wouldn’t ask for the seconds he wanted for dinner.  Instead of signing ‘please’, he pitched a fit.  After we took it to the chair he would not sign please to get down.

I asked CavWife if we should look on EBay for a cone of silence like Maxwell Smart used to have.  Of course, that didn’t work very well.  I’m sure technology has improved since then.

Anyway, he sat on that chair until bath time refusing to say “please”.  I’d ask him and he’d shake his head.  He is one stubborn cookie, and I’m in for trouble.  At least it provides an apt sermon illustration for this Sunday. 

Maybe a pina colada IV would do the trick.  I guess there might be some ethical/moral issues with that- but I’d certainly feel better in the short term.

Update:  Apparently they are releasing a new Get Smart movie this June starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.  A type of Get Smart Begins, as Max is just an analyst when all of Control’s agents are compromised.  He is promoted to field agent under the guidance of the only agent whose identity is not compromised- Agent 99.  Could be great, or it could really stink.

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I was watching C-SPAN last night, partaking of the Comedic Caper that took place on Capitol Hill yesterday.  Here are my thoughts:

1. McNamee seemed more believable to me.  He admitted to his lies to reporters, and the process by which he was essentially caught and had to tell the truth.  Apparently Congressman Burton can’t understand the distinction between lying to reporters in 2005 and lying to Congress under oath in 2008.

2. Roger can’t answer a question to save his life, and he was in way over his head intellectually (which is surprising considering how dumb most of the Republicans looked).  He couldn’t understand that 2 conversastions with McNamee about injecting his wife with HGH qualify as conversations about HGH with McNamee, which he repeatedly denied having earlier in his deposition.  If my wife was having a reaction to an injection to HGH, I’d certainly call my doctor and study up on HGH fast.  Yet, Roger claims he knows next to nothing about HGH.  Mind boggling how goofy this guy comes across.  Great pitcher, but the IQ of a turnip.  He was caught in a number of inconsistencies, and offered no reasonable explanation for them.  His abuse of the English language was comical.

3. Sadly this was politicized.  By and large the Republicans went after McNamee.  Souder, who was burned by Palmeiro in 2005, was the exception.  I guess his autograph parade through the offices last week paid off (Souder again declined).  The Democrats, who did look far more prepared than the Republicans, pretty much went after Clemens.  Congressman Mica of Florida, aka Master of the Obvious, was doing his best Forrest Gump imitation, seeming entirely clueless.

4. Lost in the comedic caper, by most of the participants, was the testimony of Pettite & Knobloch.  Hmmm, Andy increased the number of times he admits taking HGH.  Why can’t McNamee remember more accurately over time?  But in those instances McNamee told the truth.  Why would he be lying with regard to Roger?  Roger never explained that.  Roger tried to throw Andy under the bus with his wife and agents by saying he “misremembered” Roger.  Andy’s conversations with Roger show that Roger intended to lie (or had deceived himself).  Could Roger come up with any compelling reason for Andy to say this?  No.

5. The Nanny Gate aspect is interesting, though not conclusive.  She does not remember a party, but did remember the whole family, including Roger, getting a tour of Jose’s home.  She thinks that Roger played golf with Jose.  This does not mean much regarding McNamee’s testimony, but the fact that Clemens himself met with her prior to her deposition is disconcerting.  His lawyers?  Yes, that would be normal.  But Roger should not have been there- it could easily be considered intimidation.  And intimidation is Roger’s bread and butter as a pitcher.  This also seems to be the way he has gone about defending himself.  I missed this part, but apparently Roger admitted he may have been at the party. 

“After all the denials, Clemens basically said, ‘Well, yeah, it’s possible I could have stopped by Canseco’s house, maybe dropped off the family, swung by after golf and before going to the ballpark….’ Hmmm. How did Davis follow up on that admission? Well, he didn’t.””

Last night I caught the end of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry won’t admit to watching Melrose Place to a woman he was dating.  He faced a lie detector test, since she was a policewoman and smelled a lie.  He asked George how to beat the test.  “If you believe it, (pregnant pause) it’s not a lie.”  As I’ve said in other posts, I think Roger really believes he’s telling the truth, but he’s not.

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Considering the Big Time

My post on Bond, Bourne & Bauer has been picked up, with some editing, by Gender Blog. It is put together by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Lend them some support, and me too!  They do call me an “avid Red Sox fan”.  Guilty as charged, though I need to see if this hinders me in the Great Race.  I’m grateful for their affirmation.

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I taped our normal TV shows while CavWife was away.  While the kids have slept, we’ve been catching up.  Tonight was a recent Law & Order.  3 guys, apparent murder suicide: one was gay, his roommate straight, and the killer a veteran sleeping of the couch.

This “ripped from the headlines” was ripped from Orlando’s headlines and was a fictionalized account of my friend David Abrami’s murder.  I felt sick.  Turning this tragedy into a story that some posters on the Orlando Sentinel made up- they were really killed by either one of Ralph’s contacts in the Republican Party or one of Dave’s former clients.  I’m just stunned.  It really is different when one of those stories that is spun off from a crime involves someone you knew.

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24 Trailer

Just in case you happened to miss it somehow.  A shocking turn of events in what could be a great season of 24 as Jack is back.

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As I watch celebrity “Christians” I’ve noticed a few patterns that may help you if you want to have a TV ministry too.

Rabbit Trail… during my interview with the session of the church I eventually began to pastor in 1998, the interim asked me if I have any desire to be on TV.  I laughed.

1. Call yourself a “life coach”.  This the popular new tag used by Paula White and Joel Osteen (see his 60 Minutes interview).  This relieves you from actually talking about the gospel and focusing on how you can help people make their lives “better”.  This is not to be confused with godly.  It is about being happy and successful.  Nothing wrong with those, but God has some bigger plans for His people.

2. Lift lots of weight.  In the 60 Minutes interview I discovered Joel can bench press 300 pounds, double his weight.  Pat Robertson claims to be able to leg press 2,000 pounds.  I’ve seen Paula on TV interviewing her personal trainer while she was in tight gym garb, so she pumps some iron too.  Never hurts to have big muscles to pad your resume and impress your viewers.

3. Don’t talk about anything negative.  Who cares if the Bible consistently addresses sin issues!  Apparently we are not self-deceived like Jeremiah says, and already know where we err.  Don’t bore people with talk about repentance- remind them how good they are and how successful they can be.  This way… when people criticize the fact you don’t speak honestly about who we are, they come off as being mean people, like Michael Horton.

4. Please, don’t ever mention that we need Jesus to make us holy and righteous.  If you really have to talk about Jesus, and Joel has shown you really don’t have to if you don’t want to, focus on how he died to make you healthy and prosperous.  Remember, that’s American religion.

5. Use lots of hair spray.  You have to, those lights make you sweat and your hair has to stay in place.

6. Don’t really answer any tough questions.  Deflect and talk about how judgmental the other person is.  Or, just demonize them and wish you had Benny Hinn’s holy spirit machine gun.

7. Hire most of your family to work for you.  Blood AND money creates a tight bond.

8. You must be willing to buy a multi-million dollar home and numerous expensive cars.  If you want to really hit it big- you gotta buy a jet.  Remember, this is what Jesus would do.  He wants you to live well, off room service.

9. Don’t, repeat, don’t go to a reputable seminary.

10. Produce lots of ‘feel-good’ tapes & books about what people must do to be successful.  No traditional theological categories- we’re talking self-help.

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Back to Boston

After losing homefield advantage, the Red Sox really had one goal when in Cleveland- get it back.  Obviously, they could have taken all 3 in Cleveland and been quite delighted.  But all they needed was one win to regain the advantage, and send it back to Boston.

I suspect the rather quiet Boston crowd of Game 2 is long gone.  Many fans thought this was over (and many a radio yapper on ESPN- local & national- said they were done).  But Josh Beckett messed with Lofton’s head, pitched another incredible game (he’s a freakin’ bargain), and the offense put up some runs.  The bullpen got some more much needed rest after Schill, Dice-K and Wake wore them out.  The Cleveland bullpen put in some work, though by no means should be worn out.

So now it is back to Boston and all that entails.  Cleveland had a chance to end it, but didn’t.  They still might, but it has become a bit harder.  I’m sure FOX is excited, the ratings for the remaining games will probably be higher than the World Series.  But the ‘crack’ team of Buck and McGarver began the stupidity of declaring that Ellsbury will probably start game 6.  The only thing worse than listening to them is the TBS crew.  Joe Morgan is about a tie on the annoyance factor.

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I flew back today from a long, long weekend with family in NH.  Unlike Mark Driscoll, I like flying Southwest.  While flying, and sitting in the airport, I listened to some of his sermons on Galatians.  This time, however, my bags were sent to Islip, NY, not Manchester, NH.  But, have no fear- they arrived by 9 that night.

I stayed with my parents, which meant limited internet access since they still have dial-up (pray for them).  I was able to enjoy watching some extra Red Sox games, lots of seafood (whole fried clams!!!) and some Indian Summer.

I was able to (finally) finish reading What Jesus Demands From the World by John Piper, and began Thomas Boston’s book Repentance.  For fun, I finished Ted Bell’s Spy, and began Dennis Lehane’s book Gone, Baby, Gone.  My hometown gets a not so nice mention in this book that is about to be released as a movie directed by Ben Affleck.  The movie is listed as having pervasive language.  I really enjoy Lehane’s stories, even though they focus on the darkest parts of humanity.  He’s got a quirky sense of humor I connect with, and the stories are based in Boston.  I’m still not sure how they are going to adapt this one to the screen without it lasting far too long, and still making sense.  But it was nice to sit on the porch, read a novel and enjoy a cigar.


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Boston.com’s most e-mailed article today is about Baby Einstein.  I guess you could say it’s about too much of a good thing, though I hesitate to call Baby Einstein a good thing.  One of the key phrases is “hours per day”.  I can’t conceive of sitting our daughter before the tube for an hour, much less hours.  Parents uses these videos to babysit their kids rather than interacting with their kids.  Our daughter watches maybe one a week.  It is nice that they sometimes have the sign language.  I think what this study shows is that kids need personal interaction (helps develop a greater vocabulary than watching the same videos ad infinitum) and to move around so they don’t, as the article says, become Baby Homer Simpsons.

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I’ve been watching the ESPN mini-series, The Bronx is Burning.  I’m interested in the clubhouse dynamics of the Yankees.  I found the Son of Sam story line distracting.  I can see them referring to contemporaneous events, like they did the blackout and bombing by the Puerto Rican terrorist group (I’d forgotten all about that one), but as essentially a second story it took away from what is essentially a baseball story.  As a result, they lost some of the character of the clubhouse.  Like, were is Sparky Lyle?  He’d be more interesting than Mickey Rivers (whose character has some moments).

John Turturro does a great job playing Billy Martin, who seems to always be on the edge of breaking down.  And Oliver Platt is one of my 2nd tier actors as well.  Another great character actor.  I like the use of the old footage for most of the highlights.  Last night’s episode had some cheesy effects as they projected a crowd behind the hitters for close ups using the actors instead of some real footage.

What is eerie is that this took place 30 years ago.  And in July the Yankees were considered out of the race, slumping and falling behind the Red Sox.  The NY media was panicing and declaring them done.  During the episode, they said “On August 10th, the Yankees were 5 games behind the Red Sox.”  From then on, with Jackson finally hitting clean-up (after George temporarily ended the mind games Martin was playing with Jackson) they stormed past the Red Sox, who had begun to slump.

Today is August 8th, and the Yankees (once declared out of the race by many media types- not by me) are now 5 behind the Red Sox.  Right now we are in the midst of a west coast trip playing contenders while the Yankees beat up on non-playoff teams.  That will change, but I’m not really appreciating the parallels.  It is time for the Sox to take care of business and start rebuilding this lead.

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Hmmmm.  Their initials are all JB.  All three come from very different time periods but still captivate audiences today.  In an interview regarding the last of the Bourne triology, Matt Damon didn’t have anything nice to say about the first JB- Bond.  He called him misogynist and imperialistic.  So I got to thinking.

I grew up watching James Bond movies.  I think the first one I saw in the theatre was Live and Let Die over 30 years ago.  He was, as noted, a product of the Cold War and has lots of Cold War cynicism.  He loves his country, loves sex and loves dispatching bad guys.  He doesn’t quite fit Damon’s sensibilities.  I don’t blame him- I don’t want to defend Bond’s womanizing ways.  Austin Powers started as a playful nod to all that was Bond before degenerating into ever-increasing crudity.

The Bond franchise got a much needed shot in the arm with Casino Royale (reviewed here).  It sought to explain the man- his cynicism and womanizing.  I see it as the inevitable and necessary hardening of his heart to cope with what he has to do.  It doesn’t justify it- just explains it.  Bond is not a virtuous man, but one who is defending his country.

I read the Bourne books in the 80’s, and really enjoyed them.  Jason was more a product of the 70’s with its suspicion of the government.  He’s a typical anti-hero: an individualist who really only cares for himself.  He’s not cynical, but paranoid.  He is faithful to a fault, pining for the woman he loved.  Unlike Bond, he does not descend into womanizing.  He does not protect our freedom, but pursues his own.  He’s not looking for solutions, but answers.  He is the existential man.

Then there is Jack Bauer- a product of 9/11.  Unlike Bond, he does not enjoy what he does.  Unlike Bourne, he does not fight for himself but for his country.  He is a man of honor, who sacrifices himself for others.  He is not suave, but often brutal.  That is because he knows many thousands or even millions may die if he fails.  He is driven in a way that Bourne cannot understand.

Three ‘heroes’ that have captivated audiences.  Three very different men reflecting very different eras.  Three men driven by different motives.  Three men who should cause us to ask questions about ourselves.

1. What effect does what I do have on me?

2. What effect does what I do have on others?

3. Is it all about me, or am I willing to sacrifice for something greater?

Here is what I’m thinking.  I enjoy the action found in (some) Bond movies, and the Bourne movies.  But I’m stirred by Jack Bauer’s self-sacrifice.  While Bond would retreat to booze and women, and Bourne would seek safety, Bauer would try to save me even at the cost of his life.  This is why Mark Driscoll wonders if he’s a type of Christ.  This is why Bauer beats them both, hands down.

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What, you may ask, are standards and practices?  Well, those are the TV execs whose job it is to try and understand and apply the FCC rules in a very liquid environment so they can avoid hefty fines when they goof.  Entertainment Weekly had a very interesting Q&A with some of those execs.

They are frustrated with the new environment.  They point the finger at the FCC.  “”The arbitrariness, the lack of clarity is creating a chilling effect,” says one.”  But the real culprit here is cultural change.  Culture has expanded the range of meaning for many words, making the job of a S&P exec difficult.  Some people think in black & white terms about some words (suck for instance- I’ve had a few conversations about that one), and have trouble recognizing the expanded use for that word or term because of what it meant years ago.  So, a show uses it one way, but you know someone will call regardless.  Will enough call to get fined?  Depends on who you offend.  And another cultural change is e-mail, where you can now alert thousands or more people about something you heard or saw on TV that offended you.


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While I was in Tampa last night I passed Church Without Walls International, home of TV Personality/Pastor Paula White.  It certainly is in an area that seriously needs the gospel.  Around the corner there are a ton of strip clubs (a common problem in Tampa which is part of why I can’t stand Tampa, the utter spiritual darkness there).

On a whim I Yahooed her and found her MySpace site.  Here is how she is described:

” Paula White is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Preacher, Author, Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Teacher, TV Personality, Wife and Mother. Beneath her unassuming beauty, lies a gentle and girlish charm. In talking with her it becomes apparent that she understands, shes been there, and she knows how to get out! Her story is one of tragedy and triumph, poverty and prosperity. She has been called a Phoenix, having risen up from the ashes of tumultuous early years to dedicate her life to pulling others out of their circumstances so that they can focus in on Gods unique plan of destiny for their lives.
“Today, Paula White is an inspiration to millions around the world who seek Gods love. She co-pastors the 22,000-member Without Walls International Church in Tampa with her husband Randy, hosts an international television program, spearheads humanitarian efforts worldwide, all while traveling the world fulfilling her mission and call to Transform Lives, Heal Hearts and Win Souls. ”

The site is chock full of pictures of her posing and lots of quotes by her.  I just found it odd.  But then again…

There was this article from the Tampa Tribune on the pastoral pair.  He’s the bishop, but she seems to be the one who is front and center.  This photo is interesting as well.  He’s got a priest’s garb, and she’s wearing a tailored coat & skirt.  An odd juxaposition.

Ministry has been very, very good to them.  The Tribune reports, “They travel in a $1.9 million business jet. They own a home they purchased for $2.1 million on Bayshore Boulevard and a $3.5 million Trump Tower condo in New York. Randy rents a waterfront villa in Malibu, Calif. ”

The last section alludes to the increasingly distant relationship the two have.  They spend little to no time together.  They seem to be going in two different directions.  He’s been looking into “purchasing a ministry”, yes, simony still exists!   

The husband of the 41 year-old grandmother admits they both had plastic surgery.  This is apparently a new status symbol among the health & wealth set.  So much for the outer man wasting away while the inner man grows… people are being completely sucked in to the culture and its corrupt values.

It is quite the sad and frightening article.  I’m not sure what people find so appealing about all this.  It sounded similar to my experience at Benny Hinn’s church one Wednesday evening when he was still in Orlando.  There were 3 offerings in 90 minutes, and no sermon yet.  I left, I had to study… they may still be taking offerings.  It was part of an assignment to attend a worship service out of my comfort zone.  This scene remains outside of my comfort zone.  It seems so out of touch with Scripture, and people continue to support their extravagent lifestyles.  May God have mercy on us.

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Seems that My Name is Earl is making a big impression on America.  The pop Bhuddist show is all about karma- thru the eyes of poor white trash.  And I am weary of hearing bloggers and reporters toss out the term.

I do believe in the God of providence.  There is a connection between reaping and sowing, though it is imperfect.  It is not impersonal forces that bring about what comes to pass, but God who works all things out according to His purpose.  Some might say, who cares about basketball.  A friend once asked that just before Kevin McHale improbably hit a 3 pointer to win a game.  McHale took about 3 in his career.

If not a sparrow falls apart from his will, neither does a ping-pong ball drop.  Where these men will live, and whom they will meet etc. are important matters.  They depend upon the drop of a ping-pong ball.

Karma is driven by a sense of justice.  Providence certainly includes justice.  But God determines what shall come to pass based on His wisdom, love, mercy, etc. as well. 

For fun, here is Bono on Karma vs. Grace:

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

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John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life is a great book.  And it makes a great gift for graduates (the gift edition w/DVD is an even better deal!).  Apparently I’m not the only one to think so.  I has just been recognized with the Gold Book Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for selling over 500,000 copies.  Sadly Christians buy many more copies of complete garbage.  This is one of the times people choose wisely.

Currently I’m wasting my life while my daughter watches Little Einsten.  My daughter knows all these words- because we actually talk to her.  She doesn’t watch much tv at all.  This morning she asked to watch it to see the kitty cat.  I need to get to the office and get work done.

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(I originally wrote this in 1999/2000 or so.  I’m pulling out some old work that I found interesting)

I grew up watching professional wrestling.  It was a reflection of our nation’s experience.  The good guys reflected the oppressed groups in our nation (Chief Jay Strongbow, Pedro Morales, Ivan “Polish Power” Putski), or our allies.  The bad guys were from our political enemies (the Iron Sheik, Nikita Koloff), or deranged lunatics (George “the Animal” Steele).  The good guys were actually good.  They tried valiently to wrestle by the rules and display good sportsmanship.  But the bad guys were really bad, breaking all of the rules and eventually provoking the good guys to take matters into their own hands because the ref usually missed the infractions or was powerless to do anything about it.

It was a morality play, pure and simple, teaching us that sometimes good people are forced to fight fire with fire, but only if provoked.  The US saw itself as the good guy forced to take action to counteract plots by the Communists or dictators because the UN refused to act.  On an individual level, most Americans were seen as basically good, law abiding citizens who could strike back if provoked.  We tried to do the right thing, but those darn bad guys made life tough for us.           

“It’s the morality play of the 90’s” declared wrestler “Chris Jericho” on an ESPN special.  He spoke the truth.  In the 90’s there are no longer good guys in wrestling.  There are only not-so-bad guys.  Everything has turned to shades of grey instead of being black and white.  People cheer according to charisma, theme music, alliance or success.  If a wrestler is successful, he is worthy of a following.           

This is the epitome of post-modern, and post-Christian (though modernity and Christianity are not the same), ethics.  The point is gaining power.  Those in power have free reign to do as they please.  If you can outwit those above you, you are to be cheered.  We only boo the horrible authority which tries to oppress the freedom of the individual to make his/her own way.  Success is all that matters.  If a President is successful, he is worthy of a following regardless of his personal and legal conduct.  Charles “Please Quote Me” Barkley has made it known, “I am not a role model”.  He rightly points to parents and teachers, but refuses to accept personal responsibility for being a good citizen.  That’s for “other people”.  Celebrities are somehow exempt from moral standards, even if they are parents and teachers (politicians or pastors).           


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This morning CavWife came in from an early morning walk in the rain.  Unfortunately for her, she had a “wall of hair” look that reminded me of Elaine.  She reminded me of what my hair looked like recently before I finally had it cut.  “What, did I have a face that looked like a horse too?” I asked.

My mind was preoccupied with the episode where they can’t find each other at the movies.  Great fun!  But of course my wife notes- that wasn’t nice.  To which I replied real Jerry’s assessment that “they were not nice people” which is why they all ended up in jail.

I thought more about Seinfeld.  It really is a world without grace, where people reap what they sow and God is not mocked.  People are mean and petty, religion is on the sidelines of life and makes no difference (Putty still fornicates with Elaine but thinks she’s going to hell and he isn’t which offends her pluralistic sensibilities).  This is what America is becoming.  Seinfeld was, afterall, all about popular culture.  They took their pokes at us, revealing that we really aren’t nice people.

But, they had no offer of redemption.  We could laugh at ourselves, but found ourselves unable to change just as they couldn’t.  Jerry remained a relational island, unwilling to allow anyone into his fortress of solitude.  George remained a neutoric loser who can’t keep a job.  Elaine …. well, you get the point.

In a world without grace, people are not able to change.  In a world without grace I’d still be a variously self-medicated, isolated, angry man.  Thankfully that is not the world we really live in.  It is only the world some people create to avoid the fact that we really are responsible for what we do (atheism is essentially the flight from responsibility).  Eventually we’ll end up in a place far worse than a MA prison, unless grace finds us and pulls us from the self-destructive mess we are in.

I love to visit the world of Seinfeld, but I wouldn’t want to live there!

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