Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Monday, January 31, 2005


My twin brothers-in-law picked this up from Goodwill Saturday evening. We relived some our past by watching the Bulls plow their way to another title. After watching it, I wondered how guys like Bill Wennington made it to the NBA. Should he've be out chopping wood in Canada?

And now..........your CHICAGO BULLS!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Emergent in the Inner City

As I've said before, Thursday nights are our inner city kids night. Last night was our first regular night. Seeing as how only 11 kids showed up last week, I wondered if they would tell their friends or if more would come. Well they must have cause 22 came last night. We had to make extra plates of snack for them. I stayed in the class where my wife taught. She had about half of them and did a wonderful job. The theme for last night was based on the story of Jesus' and the demon-possessed man whose name was Legion and they (evil spirits) plead for Jesus to cast them into a bunch of pigs. What we hoped to accomplish last night was the idea of choosing good or choosing evil. These kids are confronted with choices everyday, more than probably you or I when we were their age. We talked about evil in our world and the mediums that evil uses to tempt and control others. Jennifer and I talked afterwards about how it must be so hard for them to make good choices when they see their environment choosing evil so much. If we are helping them think and choose the positive course and their parents or siblings are doing the opposite, then what good are we doing?

I think I know the answer to that question but it sure is hard to believe it and see it sometimes. This got me thinking about the Emergent conversation that I've been listening to for the past few years. As most of its leaders will tell you, the Emergent dialogue has grasped the attention of many white middle-class surburanite males and some women while fewer are listening from other ethnicities. I'm not dogging the Emergent because the leaders know that this needs to change so we can hear other voices in this time of transition. I just wondered how the Emergent could aid the inner city kids that my wife and I teach on Thursday nights. Should our teaching be less reductionalistic like "you shouldn't watch BET or listen to Eminem or Jay-Z"? Granted a lot of mainstream rapper's songs are just plain ludaricous (no pun intended), but I've heard songs that have redemption themes running throughout the beats and melodies. How could we teach them redemptively? When will the Emergent full integrate the inner city in its dialogue? Will its conversation be altered in regards to the "projects" because of its chaotic environment?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

No Phone No Phone

Well folks, I never thought I'd be saying this but......I have a cell phone. Yes I know, I know it's 2005 for goodness sake. No big deal to all you technology freaks out there. I used to live in a house back in my final years of college where my roommates and I would see how would be the last one to get a cell phone. It was between Daniel, T and myself. Daniel and T were the shoe-ins for sure I thought, no way they will get one before I do. I was engaged at the time and knew that my wife wanted me to have one in case of emergencies or other circumstances. She would get irritated by the fact that I was anti-cell phones and I would constantly make fun of our other roommate Dean for getting calls every three minutes on his cell. Time went on and T moved out of the house and landed a job delivering coffee. The company gave him a cell to use on the job but he could also use it on his personal time. Soon after, he got himself his own cell phone. Now the man I call T (Terry Wayne Harville), has 2, count em 2 cell phones. Then it was down to Daniel and me. I thought, Daniel is a good ole' country boy, he'll never get a cell phone. Sure enough, not long after T had his, Daniel purchases him a nice flip phone because he needed to be able to be reached for work purposes. So there I was, the last man standing. No cell phone in my pocket and I felt great. It's been a few years since we made that non-financial bet and now I am plugged into the matrix. I even had to have my wife show me how they work. I know that the green button answers and the red button hangs up. My wife and I'm sure my parents are glad that I have a cell phone. Hopefully I won't turn into those people you see on the interstate jabering on and on not paying attention to the road. Sheesh!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ending Chronic Homelessness

Picked up the Nashville Scene last night while shopping for my wife’s birthday gift. I always get nervous when I buying my wife something not that she won’t like it, but I just get real insecure about stuff like that. The Scene covered a story about the homeless as well as Nashville’s Metro Council’s heroic attempt to end chronic homelessness in Nashville. The Council plans to stop homelessness in the next 10 years. While this effort might seem valiant, it could end up being another dimly light press story from the other agendas on the mayor’s to-do list. The final plan from the Council includes an approach that emphasizes on placing homeless people in low-cost housing they can stay in forever rather than a short-term stay in a crisis shelter. Services are brought to them like health care, substance abuse treatment and job placement. The plan also presents a list of other initiatives like reading with root issues of addiction and mental illness rather than incarcerating offenders, public transportation availability, job training, and available health care system. Sound great right? So…who has 40 million dollars that they want to invest in this plan? Forty million is just for the affordable housing idea alone, and that’s a low estimate. G.W. Bush has a plan, at least the Interagency Council on Homelessness does. They plan to focus on the people who live on the streets for more than a year and that will hopefully improve the situation. In the ICH eye’s, those who are chronically homeless use a large amount of resources dedicated to homelessness such as using the ER or veteran’s hospital too much or those that get sent to jail who really need treatment for mental illness. Philip Mangano is Bush’s appointee that runs the ICH. He knows that throwing more money at the problem will be a waste so he encourages others to view the situation afresh. I hope the Metro Council is able to implement their strategy and the community will be educated and engaged enough to support the efforts.

While reading the article, they highlighted a man named Kevin Barbieux. Kevin is also on the Metro Council to end chronic homeless. As well he should be because he is homeless. Kevin writes on his blog and is trying very hard to earn a living. He recently learned how to knit and sells his homemade garments. If you want to check both of his blogs out, go here as well as here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


For my grad class I'm reading through the book of Joshua. We have covered up to chapter 7 in a couple of weeks time. During our discussion on chapter 4, we focused on the 12 stone memorial that Joshua commands his people to set up in response to their miraculous crossing of the Jordan river. It was brought up that the memorial was to be used as a teaching tool for the future generations. "When your children ask their parents in time to come, 'What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know, 'Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.'

After we discussed this, we turned our attention towards using memorials in our faith and churches as a way of inviting those into the story of God. Symbols were seen as an invitation to participate in the story, to act it out so to speak. I thought about how the only two symbols that I have seen in churches is either the Cross or the American flag. (Interesting how quick we can parade the flag in our churches but not our crosses) Actually I take that back. The Eucharist ("communion" in my heritage) is symbolic as well as participatory in the redemptive story. I wonder what other symbols people do that express their faith as well as invite others to participate or ask "What does that mean?"

I have an icon of Dorothy Day. I don't pray to Dorothy Day's spirit or whatever, but I have reflected on her life and her passion to love the unloveable. The verse on the Bible she is holding is Psalm 113:7-9:

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.

Garden State

My wife and I watched Garden State last night. Good, not great, movie but great soundtrack. Zach Braff said that he wanted to make a smart love story for younger people that got across the genuine feeling of what's it like to come home. I would say bravo to Zach ("Large") for a creative written screenplay that developes that theme. He did make a smart movie that showed the ability of facing those demons in the one's past and being freed from their tight grasp. Check it out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Marks of a Church: Reconciliation

As mentioned earlier, the body of Christ lived monastically together while embracing a culturally reversing vision of economics and social structure. The final piece of a distinct ecclesiology becomes a community committed toward reconciliation among one another. Through this attitude the church displays the peaceful nature of the future Kingdom (Isaiah 2). Furthermore, a community rejects the kingdoms of Mammon (power/wealth) and Mars (war) because they realize these kingdoms will break in pieces under the government of God. The new politics in light of the Kingdom practices trusting in the Almighty rather than the nationalistic powers. In their place rests a government that rules with enduring peace and practices forgiveness no matter who is considered their "enemy." Reading this last sentence, one might picture a commune embedded in passivity. Instead, pacifism roots itself in the narrative of redemption; redeeming what constitutes as destructive and bringing forth the worthiness and dignity in a situation or person. Joan Chittister consents by stating that nonviolence finds its foundation on justice, bringing value to another’s life. The church’s mission becomes a faithful improvisation of God’s reconciling nature displayed in the story of the Bible. As a culture, the church, in whatever setting, must be a prophetic voice among other cultures, pleading for a more nonviolent, reconciling style of living.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ice Bowl

(Note: This is the logo for last year.) Played my first disc golf tournament this morning. Since I have only played for recreational reasons with friends, myself and three other of my buddies signed up in the Beginners category. For $10 and donating 5 canned goods to charity, we played 20 holes, received a free disc, and ate chili after the round. I didn't fair too well, but I'm blaming it on the freezing weather and harsh winds. Oops, no whining, I forgot. Par was 60, I shot 93. Maybe I'll do better next time. At least I should buy a frisbee bag so it looks like I know what I'm doing.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Could Jesus be Black?

For Jennifer and I, Thursday evenings are dedicated to helping out in our church’s inner city program. We pick up 2nd through 4th graders from the projects and bring them back to the building to eat snacks, a lesson, making crafts and just being silly. Because Jennifer is very gifted towards inner city children, she will be teaching for the first 7 weeks while I ride the bus when we pick them up and drop them off. There are about 10 volunteers that gather together every week for this activity. (Side note: one of the volunteers is Chuck Lee, a former backup singer for the legendary James Brown. GOOD GOD!!!!!!)

Because last night was the first meeting, they ate snack and watched a video. The video could seem to hold the kid’s attention very well (what’s new with kids). To be honest, the video was pretty boring. I think it was an animated version of the Passion movie minus the Aramaic and torturous beating scenes. It began with Jesus’ last days on earth with his disciples and ended (because of time) with Jesus getting whipped by the Roman soldiers. While watching the film, I pondered two things.
1. In the movie all the characters are……….you guessed it, white. Peter, Judas, Pilot and even the nicely groomed Jesus were all honkies. Our inner city kids are mostly black. Sure there are a few white kids and Hispanics, but mostly they consist of African Americans. I wondered if the kids or even their culture had been bombarded with the image of Jesus being a “Euro-Anglican, mullet toting” white guy. Sure the makers of the film probably weren’t trying to make the film as accurately as possible, including the Jewish makeup of the characters, but I don’t think its fair to present Jesus as some Anglo Saxon with perfectly conditioned hair. Do I know what Jesus looked like? I don’t pretend to know, but I’m sure he would look like a Middle Eastern man, probably someone like Osama bin Laden. I began to wonder if the kids would pay more attention to the movie if the characters were black, or even intermixed. What if Jesus was……black? I’m not advocating that we make Jesus into whatever we want him to be, just thinking out loud.
2. After much restlessness and lack of attention towards the film, the kids didn’t want the movie to be turned off. Why? Well when it was time to go we were at the point in the story where Jesus is captured, convicted and was being whipped by the guards. All of a sudden the kid’s attention was focused on what was happening on the scene. “Why is he getting beat?” one kid said loudly. “What did he do to get that?” another said. They saw the injustice and questioned it; almost spoke out against it in a way. I thought about all the history the African community has been through, especially in America: civil war, civil rights movement, slavery, etc. I noticed how much hurt, oppression, injustice their people have been through and how they can still recognize and relate to others that go through that experience, like Jesus.

While I look forward to this semester and our Thursday nights with the kids, I can’t wait to see what I learn from them and how they will show me God in their eyes, their questions, their silly faces and smiles. Even though the kids didn’t enjoy the majority of the film Thursday, they didn’t want the story to end and in a way, neither did I.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Moe goes Postmodern

During the Simpsons rerun last night, Moe headed to bartending school to brush up his business skills, Homer is charged with keeping tabs on Springfield's premiere watering hole. Afterwards, Moe decides to make his tavern over into something more hip. REM appears in the episode. One scene was funny to me because of the terminology Moe used when his old tavern buddies show up at the new Moe's.

Moe: Welcome to "m," hah? Heh, heh. So, what do you think of the new joint?
Lenny: Wow, this place looks like it's from the not-too-distant future.
Moe: Yeah. You like it, Homer?
Homer: [looking at live rabbits wiggling in harnesses suspended from the ceiling] Um, the rabbits are cute.
Lenny: Eh, that one ain't moving. [points to a still rabbit]
Moe: [snaps, summoning an aide] Uh, change number 7.
Carl: I don't get all this eyeball stuff. Uh, what are they supposed to represent? Uh, eyeballs?Moe: It's po-mo! [blank stares from all] Post-modern! [more staring] Yeah, all right -- weird for the sake of weird.
Guys: Oooh!

I wonder if that could be a dialogue from a church meeting. "Weird for the sake of weird." Good answer Moe.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Marks of a Church: Economy of Sharing

In addition to welcoming the outcasts into its community, the church acts as giving participants to each other as well as to those in need. A healthy ecclesiology considers the facet of liberating individuals from bondage, whether sin or destitution. Where a community offers assistance in equal measures to the whole body, it strengthens the body to promote peace and unity. Furthermore, God anticipates the church to infiltrate a poverty-stricken, power-welding world and exemplify a different economics among their ranks. During the birth of the early church, disciples lived among an economy of sharing and hospitality. Food, funds and property were all shared comprehensively among the disciples. Similarly in St. Benedict’s monastery, the monks presumed all as common possession and nothing as their own. In Martin Luther’s mind the community was shaped not by ownership, but by the form of sacrificial servanthood. Once an ecclesiology grasps the magnitude of sharing, the church becomes a catalyst for healing hunger and poverty in our world. “The problem [in the world],” stated Clarance Jordan, “is not supply but in distribution, not with God but with us.” After the church learns to share with each other, they in turn distribute their possessions to those outside in need. Dorothy Day’s view of economy of the church was based on human need, not on profit motive. Jesus’ mandate of feeding the poor, housing the homeless, visiting the prisoners, clothing the naked, and tending to strangers becomes a reality of the church’s life. The church must ask itself if its priorities lie in being accurate on all doctrinal matters, or in James words, caring for the widows and orphans. After the development of selfless sharing takes precedence in the community, members recognize their equality in face of society’s social structure. For David Lipscomb the church embraces “all people, all nations, kindreds and tribes and [seeks] to mingle and mould them into one universal brotherhood.” All are considered equivalent in light of Jesus’ treatment to those in ancient Israel.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Letters from Jail

Last weekend my wife and I were watching a movie on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Before the movieI didn't know much about his life other than his involvement with the Civil Rights movement and the "I have a dream" speech. Even though we had to leave the house during the movie and only caught 45 minutes of it, I was moved by two parts in the movie. The first was during the bus strike in Montgomery. Dr. King was passionate yet seemed somewhat insecure about being the spokesman for his people. Because the bus strike was successful, the community leaders met with Dr. King and others to plead that they start riding the buses again. After Dr. King finished his reply, a white chairman said something that was extremely difficult for myself to hear as well as Dr. King. The chairman mentioned how Dr. King was a minister of God and his purpose should be leading people to live an obedient Christian life rather than being involved with social matters such as these. Have you ever heard that? "Our job is not involving ourselves with social matters," some Christians might say. This portrays just how disconnected/separated faith and living like Jesus really was and still continues to this day.

The second moment was after Dr. King's house was bombed. No one was hurt, but a mob of African-Americans was starting to form outside of his house waving guns and yelling their discontent towards white policemen. The cops inside asked Dr. King if he could somehow intervene to help the situation because it seemed as though chaos was about to erupt. Walking slowly with a tired look upon his face, Dr. King faced the crowd and reassured the people that his family was not hurt. He echoed his anthem of nonviolence towards the crowd and began to quote the Sermon on the Mount section regarding loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. It brought tears to my eyes to see a man move the crowd as he did, not by talks of war or victory over the white man, but by his passion to love those that persecuted him. I thank God for people like Dr. Martin Luther King who stood for justice without pursuing violence. I'm reading his letters from Birmingham Jail which can be found here.


Excellent movie. Kind of cliche ending, but other than that, good dialogue scenes especially the one about Miles Davis in the jazz club. Check it out.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Marks of a Church: Inclusiveness

If it is Christ who determines the purpose and mission of the church, then it is the church's mission to be the type of community that embodies the message of Christ. The importance of living out faith among a community should not be overlooked. Since the creation of man, God intended for individuals to live together in community. Even though the idea of community runs deep in Scripture, inclusiveness should be one distinct mark of ecclesiology. Similar to the parable of the invited dinner guests, the church's reach extends to those outside its perimeter. The invitation includes those on the edge of society such as the homeless, foreigners, scoundrels, gays, society's "unclean", elderly people and the like. If a community excluded the weak and seemingly insignificant, then does that mean the exclusion of the Messiah simultaneously? For St. Benedict, receiving others into their community resembled the act of receiving Christ. Likewise, the co-creator of the Catholic Worker , Dorothy Day's attitude of inclusiveness sought to engage others, as one would do for Jesus. Day practiced the discipline of seeing Christ in others, especially when she was incarcerated for participating in a peaceful protest: "Jesus is the fat lady. Jesus is this unfortunate girl, Jackie, who is making advances towards me. Jesus is Baby Doll, her cellmate." With this mindset, the practice of inclusiveness places the importance of belonging to the community before believing correctly. As the Rule of St. Benedict stated, any visiting guest or wandering pilgrim wishing to bind himself to the community should be received as a member. Will our churches become a display of society's untouchables as well as the "normals" living together, not claiming private ownership of any possessions, but everything held in common? Will we accept all who come to the table of grace, even if it means our reputation? Will we accept the bare minimum of toleration for those on the outside or will we fully practice radical impartial love to all humankind?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Loving Your Heritage?

"I'm tired Clark. I'm 25 and I'm tired. I shouldn't be, but I am."

Has anyone in ministry felt this? Let me go a step further. Has anyone in ministry felt this and you're under 30? Last night, I had a wonderful conversation with Jason Staples, a friend of mine from MTSU. For the last 2.5 years he has worked as a campus ministry intern on the University of Kentucky, not to mention finishing up a MA degree at Asbury Seminary. Jason is a person that redefines the phrase "get hype" at least in my opinion. I have learned so much from him and his way of living (except for his 4 hours of sleep method).

Because Jason and I come from the same church heritage, we talked about the changing times, how church will be effected, how it is being effected, how will church change in the next 50 years. For those of you who don't know Jason or myself, we grew up in the circles of churches of Christ. CoC's have their dirty little secrets like other denominations and ugly blemishes, but over all the beginning of the movement (late 1700s, early 1800s) had unifying intentions. But over time, the beliefs became crystalized and modernity/rationalism/nationalism took root in the minds of many leaders and scholars. (I'm not saying modernity is the worst thing ever, but it hasn't helped out tradition much) Are CoCs hopeless? By no means. But when mentioning our heritage, especially in the South, a disclaimer has to be added to our comment so as not to be labeled or misunderstood.

I asked Jason if he was considering leaving the CoCs because many in our heritage, especially younger members have left. He didn't give me a definite answer but I could tell his hope for working with churches in our tradition was diminishing. My hope is diminishing too. I want so badly for churches of Christ to see just how much they are missing the big picture. Why are we still debating if women can lead prayer on Sunday morning or if hand clapping is sinful, while millions of people are dying with AIDS in Africa and India? Why are we so intent on arguing someone to faith in Jesus? Why can't we gather together as different tribes/traditions and pray as one? Heck, why can't we gather together as even as CoCers and pray for unity without being bogged down by "conservative"/"progressive" issues and identities?

For the past couple of years, I have been listening intently among the ongoing conversations of the Emergent as well as the Ekklesia Project. My theology continues to transition, but is still flawed. I know my pride confronts me when my anger is about who's right and who's wrong. I don't want to play their game. I have said that I truly will stand by CoCs as long as they will have me. Will that pursuit become obsolete in the coming years? I don't know. But like Jason, I'm tired too. I'm tired of living in a broken world where I have a hard time seeing the Kingdom come. I'm tired of hearing and reading these silly arguments while we are being passed by by the times and real issues of our day.

God, for those who are on similar journeys like Jason and myself, please grant us wisdom and discernment for our pilgrimage. Fill us with love that covers all. And strengthen our hands and feet while we harvest in your Kingdom.

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Man Named Billy

What a restful and enjoyable weekend. Spent time with friends, played Monopoly, watched Napoleon Dynamite for the third time and finished some reading I needed to do. ("Your mom goes to college") The only problem was I have developed some throat dryness due to drainage and Spring-like weather in Winter. Because of these factors, I have an extremely low voice and was belting out some "Berry White" type bass at church yesterday and this morning in the shower. Wonder what my clients will think when they hear me on the phone today? Maybe I should serenade them with a little ballad "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Baby."

I have been meaning to journal about this but never knew what to say about it. Up to this point I still don't know what to say. So here goes...On my way home from work last week, I pulled out of the parking lot and was proceeding to turn right onto 8th Avenue. I noticed a man walking up the street from the corner of my eye. There was nothing unusual about this man, yet I felt like I knew him. The line to turn right began to shorten. While my mind is usually preoccupied with news from NPR or hoping I don't fall asleep on the Interstate, I could not escape the haunting image of the man I saw walking up the sidewalk. I glanced back and studied his face, all the while not trying to let him see me. "Who was he?" I thought. My memory searched its database for an answer, a picture, a clue, something to let me know who this man was and how I knew him. Again, another car turned right making the line even shorter and pushing me towards the stop sign. Finally it clicked. My search was over. It was Billy.

Several years ago while I was still a student at MTSU, I decided to stop going to church on Wednesday nights to be fed and do a little feeding myself. I followed a friend of mine (John Erickson) out to Nashville one night to an empty, dimly lit, abandoned hospital parking lot on the South side of Nashville. A church called Green Street Church of Christ, mainly made up of Lipscomb college students, would drive out to this parking lot and feed those that needed a meal. Their interactions with the homeless community would go far beyond a meal with the homeless one night a week, but this was my baptism into their world. Their ministry was coined with the phrase used by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church: Fools for Christ. To be honest, I was not comfortable with the idea of sitting down with someone who had been through a world of experience that I may never know of. What did I have in common with these people? Why would they want to talk to me? I have a car, rent money to pay for my apartment, food in my cabinet, not to mention the other stuff that invades my life that I see as "worthy." How can I relate to them? All this changed when I meet a man named Billy.

I felt comfortable with Billy even though he seemed reclusive by sitting by himself away from the crowd. Sitting by the fence on the cold hard parking lot cement, we talked for what seemed to be a long time. He wore life on his face with the thick lines that displayed a weathersome journeyman's travels. We spoke about Nashville, the music industry, Bob Dylan, traveling throughout the United States, politics, our childhoods. It was as if he and I were comrades in another life somewhere and we were reuniting from the ashes to check how the other was doing. Billy was one of the many faces I encountered on Wednesday nights under a Nashville sky. During my several months attending this gathering, I served food to those who were hungry, laughed with them, prayed with them, gave them rides, listened to them as well as shared with them. I meet a lot of people. Some I wouldn't remember, others I couldn't forget. Billy showed me that even though he was without a home or a job or the nice things we think we need, he was still human. That's a lesson that you can't find in any textbook.

I never saw Billy again until last week when I recognized him walking up the sidewalk near my workplace. I resent the fact that when it was my turn to turn right, I did. I left behind a man who still roams the streets without ever thanking him or acknowledging that I knew his name. His face still haunts the hallways of my mind, not in a negative manner, but as a reminder that all of humanity is just that, human. Thanks Billy.

Friday, January 07, 2005

the Dunning's

Last night, my wife and I entertained some friends of ours that have recently been married. Dean and Amanda Dunning were married on December 17th in Murfreesboro. These two people mean a lot to me. First, Amanda and I share the resemblance of those who might lack a ingredient called pigment. Yes, we have light blonde hair with fair pale skin tones which easily makes us targets for such questions as to whether or not we are in fact albinos. Sadly we must let those who inquire know that we are not from the exquisite breed of powder people. Because of our matching skin color and hair, we have adopted the name "Sis" and "Bub" for one another. In the few years we have known her, she has been a wonderful friend to my wife and I. Dean has also been a great friend to us. Actually he used to date my wife. No joke. At the time when he was dating Jennifer, I was dating another Jennifer. Weird, I know. Anyway, it's not awkward when he is around my wife which is relieving. Dean was in my covenant group back in 2001. That group was where Dean and myself really decided to pursue Jesus and understand discipleship more. I will never forget those times in Gilbert's living room or my apartment where we would lay hands and pray for each other, listen to each struggle, and encourage one another to carry their cross for the next week. Dean and I worked together as campus ministry interns at MTSU Raiders for Christ. We lived in the same "dumpy" house and spent many hours practicing our disc golf skills across the street. I have learned a lot from Dean over the years and am thankful for his friendship. Both Dean and Amanda plan to plant a campus ministry or plant a house church somewhere in the states. Thank God for people like the Dunning's.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Rock City

With the advances of modern technology, I am now able to post pictures from my wife's digital camera on the blog (thanks Thunder).

This picture was taken back in the summer of 2003 on the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. That is my lovely wife Jennifer next to me. We had an incredibly fun day trip one Saturday right before I traveled to Oregon for a few months. Our agenda consisted of visiting Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain, eating at a great pizza place called Mellow Mushroom and ending the day eating hotdogs and watching a Chattanooga Lookouts (Cincinnati Reds farm club) baseball game under the lights. I guess that's enough of the nostalgic flashback for one day.

Go Johnny Go Go

This past Sunday while visiting my in-laws, I attended church where my wife's family goes. I'm not too particular about going to their church, but I have been working on my attitude and am trying to not be so negative (the harms of studying Bible in Grad School). We went through the usual routine of two songs, opening prayer, song, Lord's Supper, song, Contribution, 2 songs, sermon, invitation song, closing prayer and announcements. I won't bother with relating the subject matter of the sermon, but during the closing of the sermon a kid in a blue shirt (we'll call him "Johnny") comes down the aisle and stands near the pulpit. The preacher stops talking and looks down at Johnny and says in a rich baritone voice, "Hello young man." Johnny, who had his back turned away from the preacher facing the audience, turns around, waves enthusiastically and says, "Hi." The chuckles rippled throughout the congregation like a small stone being thrown in a reserved pond. With not much idea on what to do next, Johnny began running up and down the aisles. Most of the audience attention on the preacher was now being lost and onto the child. The preacher again spoke clearly and calmly into the microphone, "Are you lost son?" A few more chuckles arose from the crowd. By this time, our complete attention was on Johnny. Whose child is this? I started to feel embarrassed for Johnny's parents. 'What if his parents are visitors to the church and they get so embarrassed by this incident that they won't come back,' I thought. "Are his parents here?" asked the preacher. No response. Nobody at this moment was going to acknowledge that this was their kid because the lunch time conversation would seemingly revolve around you and about how you can't get your kid to behave even in church. About this time, the kid had returned near the pulpit and was headed up another aisle. Seeing as how no one was going to own up to their own child, a rather large man in a faded green blazer stood up and held is arms out like he was about to hug the tender boy. The only problem was Mr. Green Blazer had a nasty look on his face, one that didn't suggest any hugging would be happening in Johnny's future. The crowd was hushed with anxiety and anticipation. What will happen to Johnny and who the heck are his parents?

As one would suspect of a future halfback, Johnny ran a "Strong Sweep to the Left" to the far aisle were he was encountered by another individual only this time, there was no angry face or faded green jacket. The younger man asked the boy, "Do you want to go outside to get a drink of water?" Clearly this boy was on a mission. "No" he stated emphatically. With that answer, the adult practically formed tackled the kid from behind, which would have made any head football coach proud, and lifted him up toward his shoulders. The man didn't ask again if Johnny wanted any water, he emphasized that they were going to get water anyway. "Let's get some water." At that, the fiasco came to a close. The young adult who captured the child was not his father or relative. I don't know if I ever saw Johnny's guardian, but I bet his backside saw who was.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Helping Out

First things first.....I will finally come out and say that the Aggies lost horribly to a (whew this is hard to shallow) good Tennessee team. There I'm done. I almost feel dirty saying that. Reggie and Aggies will be back next year and I predict they will be in the top 10 by the end of 2005.

Second, since this disaster in India has happened Jennifer and I have seriously put thought into funding a charity/humanitarian effort on a monthly basis. We want to use some of our hard earned salaries (as huge as they are *sarcastic tone*) in efforts locally as well as nationally. We threw around some ideas the other night but if you have any ideas or experiences with other charities, let me know. Hopefully we can be the next Warren Schmidt in the life of an Ntugu, minus the streaking Kathy Bates.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Recommended Book for 2005

Hello 2005. Nice to meet you. I was welcomed into the New Year by a rather interesting site. While at my wife's relatives house, the TV was on NBC and Conan O'Brien was doing a Central Time Zone countdown, a nice gesture. So instead of seeing the loud, rambling storyteller Regis fill in for 200 year old Dick Clark, I watched as two massive paper-macheish heads, one white male and one black female, french kissed each other with extremely long tongues, all the while a circle of random characters (cornstalk man, person dressed as Ron Artest, the Midwest states and so on) danced around Conan's desk. It was funny, but a little weird. The kids in the room seemed to enjoy its humor.

Monday will come soon and I'll return to my regular routine of arising at 5:30 in the morning and traveling the crowded interstate for 45 minutes only to sit at a phone and talk to strangers for almost 8 hours. So my time off has been welcomed, but Monday will not. Since my extended break, I have indulged myself in a book my wife bought me for Christmas. It is a biographical peek into the live of Wilco by Chicago rock critic Greg Kot. It's called Learning How to Die. Kot gleefully dances among the bands engaging career even from the time of Jeff Tweedy's initial band, The Primatives with former bandmate Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo. If you have seen Wilco's documentary by Sam Jones, then the last few chapters add small morsel's to the otherwise tasty film. Overall, I enjoyed the book and found it difficult to put it down. I'm an avid fan and have always thought of Tweedy as an interesting bird. Through his lyrics as well as Kot's testimonies from him, I entered into Tweedy's life for what seemed to be a lengthy stay. Well done Kot and well done Wilco for your never ending pursuit to not compromise to the evil-money grubs in the record biz. I admire those who pursue art not for the audience or for share of fame or even seeking approval for the high pressured execs sake, but for making music, making art for the artist's sake, whether it tanks or soars.