Monday, August 24, 2009

Seven Stranded Castaways

I noticed a quiz on Facebook the other day that determines which character from Gilligan's Island you are most like. I loved that show. Lots of fun, in kind of a corny, pitiful way. Some more sophisticated types said that this show was a metaphor for the tragedy of the human condition. I guess I missed that altogether.

I did read a great piece in Newsweek after Bob Denver's death. It's quite a tribute to all the Gilligans of the world, along with two more childhood heroes. See what you think. You can find it here: Gilligan, Scotty, and Fife.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome Home

Rembrandt's portrayal of the prodigal son's return stirs something deep in me. The humility,
the pity, the welcome. To feel the embrace of the father, to find grace and forgiveness for our failures. Is there a deeper longing in the human heart?

We call it by many different names-being saved or converted or confirmed or enlightened or accepted. What this experience really means is much more basic than you might think. It means coming home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It's more like the smelling salts."

—Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Mere Mortals

"Remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

—C. S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Life in a Box, Part 3

Last summer my mother gave me my box, the box of all the stuff she had collected from my childhood days. It was going to be a scrapbook, but Mom had saved way too much stuff and had way too many kids, so our scrapbooks turned into big plastic boxes. And that's okay with me. I just think it's great that she thought to tuck away all the mementos and memorabilia for me to share with my own kids.

That's me, the little guy in the red striped shirt, the youngest of eight. I think Pete took the picture. Sorry so fuzzy. It's a picture of a copy of a picture. If you would like to catch the first two installments, you can find them here.

My Life in a Box, Part 1
My Life in a Box, Part 2

Most of what Mom saved about my childhood was very positive and encouraging, even kind of cute, I guess. But I did find an exception or two in my box. I found a deficiency report that I had brought home to my parents during my 9th grade year in Windsor. Apparently, I had quite an attitude as a freshman in high school, since my math teacher checked off seven of the nine categories of bad behavior. Check it out. Seven out of nine categories. That's embarrassing.

Seems like most of us go through a rebellious phase as teenagers, some sooner, some later, some wilder than others, pushing the envelope, sowing our wild oats, whatever you want to call it. I guess I did my part, too.

My math teacher would probably be stunned to know that I am not writing this from Leavenworth or San Quentin. And he would never believe that I finished college, let alone a masters and a doctorate.

So, why did Mom hang on to that stupid deficiency slip? Nothing cute about that, just kind of a poke in the chest that says, "Hey, remember what an annoying, cocky kid you were? Thought you never would grow up."

No, that's not like Mom, to be harping on my past failures. And I know she never gave up on me or her high expectations for all of her children. Perhaps she had a different agenda in mind, a long-term plan to give me a healthy dose of humility and a little more understanding with my own children when they would stretch the limits of my patience. I think she knew I would need it.

So, on an evening long ago when she would rather have wrung my teenage neck, instead my mom tucked away this future reminder for me to find just when I would need it. And I'll bet she was smiling when she did it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

One evening last week Suzanne and I were enjoying a cookout and picnic over at Liberty Park with several other ministers and their families. We were laughing about all the funny things that we had seen through the years. Suzanne could not resist bringing up once again my donut shop wedding. I think she loves to hear me tell a good story on myself, one where I lost just about every scrap of dignity. We had a big laugh all over again. I wrote about it a year or so ago. Here it is again for those who might have missed it.

The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 1: The Phone Call

The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 2: The Appointment
The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 3: The Ceremony
The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 4: The Epilogue