Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who's got a grip?

Bonfire by PixelPerfectToday I walked from my office to the local Borders book store to buy a copy of the 2007 ESPN Sports Almanac. My job used to supply them, but no longer. If you want one, you either have to go through three levels of bureaucracy to get one or you have to buy it yourself. I chose the latter because I need the book now. It felt like parents that don't provide when you're a kid - no my brother you must buy your own. So I did.

Also I had an opportunity to shoot a tv piece on Victor Wooten - the bass player for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - who has a new band "Soul Circus" of which my bass teacher is a member. I floated the idea past the powers that be - no go. They didn't want it.

That's fine, but it feels like a missed opportunity - for me and for them. But hey, that's the Government.

I also found out a co-worker with whom I sometimes clash has a serious health problem. This person rubs me the wrong way sometimes, and I give it back to him in spades. But now I feel bad for being a prick to him. I will have to tell him that.

I am working on my last term paper for Graduate School. The last one. Finish this, take the exam and I have a Masters' Degree. It's strange, but it's here. I'm almost sad. I know the learning will not stop until I die, but this season of it has ended. It's almost tempting to become a full-time professional student, but I know that's not what God has for me.

I have been reading a book (actually several books, several magazine articles, scholarly journals, ad nauseum) on Theodicy - how to justify God's goodness in the face of evil. You know, like why did this happen to me? Any of them fall to pieces in the face of the natural disasters and the human cruelty that come across the TV screen every day. But God is good; sometimes His people aren't. It does teach you to number your days, though.

With that, I will get back to my books, back to work. Don't want the bossman to get too nervous - although all he's doing is watching television and reading the newspaper.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks again

This is another photo of my classmate Tim, who is currently deployed with NCIS in Djibouti, east Africa. Thanks guys.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Now is the winter ....

I changed the background image and the header on this blog to more reflect that Winter is coming. I took the photos a couple of years ago and processed one of them through PhotoShop. The image in the header is not the same one as the background, but it sure looks like it. My wife says the photos look like Lanternwaste in the Chronicles of Narnia book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not bad company, C.S. Lewis and all that.


Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSo this is me today. I let some friends of mine park their van in my driveway so they won't be charged for storing it at a storage area. When I said yes, I was told that all I needed to do was start it every now and then to make sure it didn't run the battery down. HA! Now it's a load of responsibility for something that isn't even mine. It taps a root of anger that reaches way back. And I'm tired of it.

The thing is, I really like the people who own the van. They are a music group that is based in England and they use the van to travel the U.S. when they come here. But I don't drive it. I don't own it, it is not mine.

And there is this gigantic oak tree that's dying in my next door neighbor's yard. It's right above the van, which is parked in my driveway.

Today that neighbor has a crew of people taking the tree down, and he asked that I move the van so they could park the cherry-picker there. (The tree is so rotten that climbers cannot get to the crown because it will fall in with them.) SO I go to start the van (after having had $1,300 worth of work done on it - for which I have not been paid yet - just last week!) And it groans at me, sputters and dies.


I tried jumping it with my car, but the battery in a VW Passat is no match for the electrical needs of a GMC Custom van.

All of this before I am trying to get to work. But, providentially my neighbor down the street, who has a garage to make Tim Allen drool, is walking his dog with his wife as I am trying to start the monster. He says he has a battery charger if I want to use it. I say yes, go get the charger, hook up the battery and eventually start the big blue monster (did I mention the van is blue?).

I call my editor and ask to come in late. He is cool with it because there is not a lot going on right now. Then my wife comes home from the gym, follows me to the dealership, we drop off the van and the dealer is looking at it to see what is wrong. And our neighbor lets us park in his driveway so we can be out of the way of the tree-cutters when they come. And they did come. Right after I left for work.

I check my e-mail and what is there? Two notes from the music team about the van. Needless to say I laid it all out for them. But the van was out of the driveway by the time the tree cutters got there, the dealer is looking at the electrical system which he had told me was okay just 7 days ago, my wife got to work, I got to work, and the dead tree will be gone by the time I get home. So it worked out.

But it tapped into an old root that I have had enough of. Taking responsibility for other people's S***. And that's what it is - refuse, crap, garbage, dung. And I have had a plate full. My responsibility is to deal with the resentment I feel over accepting a plate full of s***. Resentment against the people who gave it and anger at myself for taking it - again and again.

So that was my morning. How was yours?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


So I took an image from flickr, (be sure to click on the title of this post to see the striking original image. The guy who shot it is a true artist!) Anyway, I am learning to do all kinds of tricks with Photoshop elements, and this is one of them, making a line sketch out of a photograph. Thanks to Bikeracer for the beautiful redhead who was the model. Thanks also to the tutorial writer on the web who gave the free lesson.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Hammer and Anvil(c) NostrildamusI have been reading C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain as part of my research on theodicy. He has some things to say that might relate to the recent scandal involving Ted Haggard.

According to Lewis: Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We 'have all we want' is a terrible saying when 'all' does not include God.

We find God an interruption. As St. Augustine says somewhere, 'God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full - there's nowhere for Him to put it.' Or as a friend of mine said, 'We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it.' Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call 'our own life' remains agreeable we will surrender it to him. What then can God do in our interests but make 'our own life' less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness? It is just here, where God's providence seems at first to be most cruel, that the Divine humility, the stooping down of the Highest, most deserves praise.

Lewis says elsewhere that God 'whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.'

I had a professor of Spiritual formation say once in class three years ago that God had told her 'You will know me in one of two ways: through prayer or through suffering.'

I don't mean to sound like some self-righteous idiot about all this. The circumstances have to be devastating to Ted Haggard, his wife and his children. It is also devastating to his church. But at the same time, it can be redemptive. Like a father who brutishly snatches his child out of the path of an oncoming truck, perhaps this public scandal is evidence not of God's anger but of His love. He loves Ted Haggard - and the rest of us - too much to allow us to remain complacent with evil.

We would not hesitate to slap a child's hand if he were about to drink deadly poison. The slap might hurt, and the child might cry, but he would not die. Is the slap because we are angry with the child? Or is our anger aroused because of the threat to someone we love? And that anger motivates us to act, to remove the danger from the beloved.

But here again, I haven't finished the book. Or my learning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote for Me and I'll set you free ....

I voted sticker (c) dbyrdIt's just a little sticker. It's not much bigger than a silver dollar (for those of us who remember when there were silver dollars). You could probably order about 1,000,000 of them for less than $100.

But it stands for something - something that I realized today is what makes America the greatest place on earth to live. Even with the war in Iraq, the Congress's ongoing lack of spine and action, the Foley sex scandal and the self-aggrandization of our so-called leaders, I would still rather live here than any other country on earth.

The little sticker I'm talking about is the one that said "I voted." I've already thrown mine out, but when the lady at the local elementary school put it on me, I thought it was something special. I had a couple of object lessons about voting today - one from someone who couldn't and one from someone who couldn't wait.

My music teacher is from South Africa. She and her husband are here working in the United States, but they are not American citizens. Their son, who was born here, is. I found it ironic that a 23 month old boy possesses more rights and protections as an American citizen than his parents, both of whom work, pay taxes, and contribute to the U.S. economy.The U.S Capitol Dome

Then when I was at the polls, there was a family with a young girl who was voting in her first election. I assume that she had just turned 18, but her mom and dad seemed quite proud that she was taking part. They were taking pictures and the girl was smiling and seemed very proud to participate in the democratic process.

And that's what made me think about the greatness of the system. People who live here are accorded certain rights because they are Americans. We don't cut people's heads off if we disagree with them; we don't send death squads in the middle of the night to kill people; we don't have the military overthrow the government and install one of its generals to lead the country. If we don't like our leaders, we unemploy them . If the people voted into office today don't do a good job, in two years, (for Congress) we can throw them out of a job.

If we don't like the President or the people he puts in charge of the executive branch, we vote them out of office and get a new bunch of people in there. That's what makes that seemingly worthless little sticker special - it represents the freedom to say "I don't like what you have been doing; you no longer work for me."The White House

And that's one thing I think is important to remember - our system of government (in theory at least) derives its right to govern from the will of the people. If the people don't like the leaders, they throw them out using something much more powerful than force - a ballot.

Who did I vote for? None of your (@*#$& business. But did I vote? You had better believe it. And I plan to in two years, as well. And for as long as I can.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard gone; search begins

Ted HaggardThe Board of Overseers for New Life Church in Colorado has dismissed former pastor after he was found guilty of "sexually immoral conduct."

A statement from the church issued Saturday said that the overseer Board of New Life Church concluded the deliberations concerning what it called Haggard's "moral failures." The Board said Haggard's statements to the media - including admitting that he had contacted a male prostitute for methamphetamine and for a massage - proved without a doubt that Haggard was guilty. A letter of apology and explanation is expected to be read to the 14-thousand member church at it's services Sunday.

According to the statement, "In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal."

The statement said the Overseers would continue to investigate the "depth of Pastor Haggard's offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin."

Haggard and his wife have been informed of the decision and agreed that a new pastor should be sought. The Overseers said that the search process will begin immediately and they hope a replacement can be found by the end of the year.

The statement also asked parishioners to continue to pray and stand strong together "for the kingdom of God." According to the statement "we will get through this together. Remember, New Life Church has never been a man, or a building or anything else -- we are a family."

Friday, November 03, 2006


So I just saw an interview with Ted Haggard with CNN affiliate KUSA, admitting that he DID buy Meth from Michael Jones and that he went for a massage with Michael Jones. So it appears that the charges are true - at least about trying to buy meth, (which Haggard said that he threw away - and Ted said it was for personal use) - and for calling Jones to get a massage! AGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

But in talking with a colleague, I said Christianity is a religion that says as one of its core tenets that all men are sinners. And Christianity is a religion of forgiveness, where there is redemption for all of us.

But she said "yeah, but they are so high-horse about it. You have to be careful when you are on your high-horse that you don't fall off."


So it turns out that the male prostitute was telling at least part of the truth and the Preacher was lying. If you watch the video of Ted Thursday night, he says "I don't know Mike Jones; I have never had a gay relationship with anyone."

But that at least that part - by Haggard's own admission - was a lie. He did know Mike Jones - at least as a drug dealer. Haggard says he was tempted, bought the meth, and never used it. But he said that he didn't even know Mike Jones. He admits that he called Jones for a massage when he was referred to Jones at a hotel in Denver.

Jones says Haggard paid him for sex and used meth with him. Ted admits to buying the meth but says he did not use it. So what's next? It's sounding a little Clintonesque. Kind of like "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

The best thing Ted can do now, is admit ALL that he has done, not in grisly detail, but at least to his board of overseers, and then get in counseling and try to recover his life; no doubt this has damaged his family and it has shattered his reputation. But it has not ended God's love for him, and while it might be damaging, the Body of Christ needs to make sure it doesn't kill another wounded one.

That's just nuts!

Ted Haggard (c) Getty ImagesThere are news reports now out of Colorado, that the Rev. Ted Haggard, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals has been living a double life. A male prostitute accused Haggard of carrying on a three-year sexual affair with him in Denver. Haggard has denied it, saying that he is faithful to his wife, and never had a gay relationship with anyone. The announcement came as Colorado is considering a marriage amendment - similar to the one in Virginia - in Tuesday's elections.

Haggard has also taken administrative leave from his church in Colorado Springs, New Life Church ( A statement from the church says that Haggard is "voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity." The Denver Post also reports that Haggard's accuser has failed a lie detector test. Is that a big surprise?

According to a profile in the Denver Post, the prostitue - Mike Jones - knew Haggard as "Art." But why do we believe this? Granted, everyone has foibles, flesh and sins. But why should we take the word of someone who breaks the law for a living? Is he reliable? And apparently Haggard has admitted to some indiscretions, but they were not enumerated.

In an email to church members, Ross Parsley, whom I studied worship with three years ago, sent this e-mail to church members.

Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church,

Many of you have expressed concern about today's news regarding our pastor. Thank you all for your prayers and support, and for your concern for our church family.

As you've likely heard by now, Pastor Ted has voluntarily placed himself on administrative leave as New Life's senior pastor to allow our external board of overseers to work effectively. Below is the statement that we released to the media on Thursday afternoon.

Since that time, the board of overseers has met with Pastor Ted. It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true. He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

I am serving as the acting senior pastor of New Life Church. I met with the pastoral staff and elders Thursday night, and I assure you that the leadership team is strong and united. We remain resolute in our commitment to serving New Life Church and the people of our community.

Please continue to keep Ted and Gayle and their family in your prayers.

I love serving God with you all,

Ross Parsley

November 2, 2006

I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart had their moral laxities in the mid 1980s. One refused to get counseling and undergo church discipline (Swaggart) and the other spent time in jail (Bakker). I remember how shocked we all were when the news came out about Swaggart cavorting with a prostitute and Bakker having a torrid affair with Jessica Hahn. It sent shockwaves through a community that had supported both men.

Jones says Haggard was one of his "holdover" clients after he stopped turning tricks two years ago. Nevertheless, Jone's add for "massage" - a kind way of saying gay sex - was still in the November edition of "Out Front" magazine, a gay publication. he also field for bankruptcy in APril with $100,000 dollars in credit card debt.

Some reports have said that the accusations have political overtones because Haggard heads the National Association of Evangelicals, which supports a ban on gay marriage.

Either way, it is a sad day when (1) such an accustaion would be brought, although with the Catholic Priests scandal we probably should not be surprised when anyone falls; (2) that we would so readily believe it to be true; (3) that someone would take this incident and use it for political gain. But who am I kidding. What world do we live in? Oh yeah, that's right, this one.