Angel in a Taxi Cab

I saw this inspirational story on the news a few days ago. Here are a few clips from
the Associated Press story:
Rita Van Loenen had no idea that a trip in Thomas Chappell's taxi cab could end up being the ride that saves her life.

"There are better odds of getting struck by lightning," Van Loenen said. "A random taxi driver offering to give me his kidney and all these pieces match. There has to be something behind this. How can this be?"

Chappell, who has been driving Van Loenen to dialysis appointments, shocked the Gilbert, Ariz. woman a month ago by offering to donate his kidney. But even more shocking to her was that doctors found they had the same blood type, that they were compatible.
Interestingly enough faith had a role in story. Here is the way that Thomas Chappell responded:

The Phoenix taxi driver said he was a man of faith and that a higher power wanted him to step in.

"By then, me and the good Lord already had a talk. He said 'Tom, you go give her one. It will work," Chappell said.
An amazing story of how God works in the hearts (and kidneys) of people who follow him. Here are the concluding thoughts from the article:

Van Loenen said that, thanks to Chappell, she can actually make plans for the future.

"Whenever I tell my friends or my family, they just find it so incredible," Van Loenen said. "They do call him an angel. My friend says there's angels everywhere. That's the right way to capture it."
I heard Mr Chappell testify in that TV story.. the simplicity of his faith inspired me.. I have to wonder if I would have been that sensitive and obedient to God's voice.

Gaga Googles can be Dangerous

According to McAfee, the anti-virus folks, a search on one of the following celebrities could be dangerous for your computer:
  1. Jessica Biel – Major buzz about her figure and high-profile relationship with Justin Timberlake makes Jessica Biel an easy target for spammers and hackers. When “Jessica Biel screensavers” was searched, almost half of the sites were identified as containing malicious downloads with spyware, adware and potential viruses. 
  2. Beyoncé – Beyonce tops the MTV Video Music Award nominee list and McAfee’s results as the most frequent, highly-ranked celebrity. Inputting “Beyoncé ringtones” into a search engine yielded a dangerous Web site linking to a distributor of adware and spyware. 
  3. Jennifer Aniston – Hollywood’s favorite leading lady should be searched with caution. More than 40% of the Google search results for “Jennifer Aniston screensavers” contained nasty viruses, including one called the “FunLove virus.” 
  4. Tom Brady – The New England Patriot seems to attract many fans who want a free download of the athlete in action, but not the Trojan that comes with it, as identified by McAfee SiteAdvisor technology.
Other dangerous celebrity searches include ones done for Jessica Simpson, Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and others. Guess you just have to be careful these days.. especially when you google folks you are gaga for :)

Ukrainian Story in Sand

This moving performance had me riveted. Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.

Contrasting Kennedy Coverage

The recent passing of Senator Ted Kennedy causes me to flash back to that time in 1963 when I was 14 years old and sitting in an English class at a high school in Brooklyn.. the teacher came into the class and told us that President John Kennedy had been shot. It was a sad time and the networks.. all of them.. had 24 hours of coverage for days.
Schools were closed but there was nothing on TV to watch except the coverage of the shooting and eventual passing of our president - I can remember being miffed that my favorite TV shows were not on.. yet.. looking back.. I think that it was good that I was inadvertently forced to watch "the news".. I can still remember John John, the president's young son, saluting the casket as it rolled by.. the presidents death had an impact on me because I watched it on TV.

Contrast that Kennedy passing with the one this week.. TV coverage is very different today than it was back in 1963.. there are so many networks and so many viewing options these days. I think that few children will watch the news coverage of Senator Kennedy's passing.. maybe few adults as well.. and I wonder if children even experience our national life in ways similar to mine. I wonder how this shift will impact future generations.

And finally, please don't take this opportunity to blast the memory of Senator Kennedy.. I was not a fan of his but I do feel for his loved ones who are missing him today.. this post is meant to contrast the differing ways that we remember these two brothers as they passed from this life to the next.. and I think I mostly rambled as I reminisced about an age gone by.

Anonymous Advice

Anyone who has been blogging for any length of time knows the challenges of interacting with anonymous commenters. Here is a clip from a recent anon comment on my Daily Prayer blog:
So what do we do when those challenges come? More than anything, we need to remember this: God is in control!

Are you, or is someone close to you, facing great difficulties? Are you struggling financially? Do you have marriage problems? Are you suffering a spiritual crisis of doubt? One of the first things we do as human beings when these challenges collide with our lives is to wonder why. But let me tell you something important. It is more important to trust the plans of God for your life than it is to try to make sense of a crisis.

So, my friend, you and I need to be prepared for times of testing. The next time you feel like someone has thrown you into a big old pit, don’t despair. Don’t panic or try to run away. God is in control even in the darkest situations! Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” John 16:33b.
I thought of a few responses to their simplistic spin on pain, struggle and suffering.. and also considered how inappropriate their comment might be for someone who was really hurting.. but I had no way to dialog with them.. so I deleted their comment.

Consequently I began to wonder why I allow anonymous commenting and could not think of why I did.. so I decided to change the settings on all of my blogs to require a user identification of some sort (Blogger makes it easy to comment by allowing Open IDs). If you don't like this and you are an anon commenter please send me an email and let me know what you think.. of course then you possibly may not be anon to me as I will know your email address :)

I am also interested in what the rest of you think about anonymous commenters. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think and what you do on your blog.
I think I need some anonymous advice :)

Bacon Block Party

My wife caught this article in the KC Star announcing that Bacon Fest 2009 will be taking place in KC on Saturday to support the Rehabilitation Institute. Here is what is in store for festers who will throw down $30 for charity:
  • Samples and cooking demos from the two local guys behind the world-famous Bacon Explosion, a bacon-stuffed, bacon-wrapped sausage delicacy.
  • BLTs and bacon and pulled pork sandwiches with hot barbecue sauce and slaw (from Adam’s Rib in Overland Park).
  • Chocolate lava cake with bacon ganache (whipped up by an Ameristar chef).
  • Maple bacon ice cream (courtesy of Murray’s in Westport).
  • Bacon-infused vodka (from the Drop in midtown) and, for the first 100 people, bloody Marys with a bacon, smoked turkey, pepperoncini and olive skewer (from Belly Up BBQ).
Wonder if I can get Ann to make the pilgrimage with me? Anybody wanna go?

Presidential Vacation Policy

My cyberfriend Joe posted an interesting note yesterday about President Obama's vacation. He ending with this note:

"For the record, the presidents who spent more of their presidency on vacation than all other presidents are GHW Bush (37%), GW Bush (33%) and Ronald Reagan (15%). For comparison: Carter, 5%; Clinton, 5%; Obama, 3%."
My last years at AT&T entitled me to 5 weeks of vacation which is pretty close to 10%.. of course I also got 3 "management days" and 9 holidays off. All of this time-off was regulated by corporate policy.. had to work 25 years before you got 5 weeks vactions.. had to work there a year to get 2 weeks vacation.

In light of this corporate background it surprises me that there is not a policy regarding presidential vacations. There may be one.. please let me know if you know of one. And let me know what you think about taking vacations in general.. does your company have a vacation policy?

For the record I am glad that the prez is taking one.. vacations are good stress relievers.

Type A Sweaters

The comment dialog yesterday about worry got me to thinking about how different personality types handle stress. My cyberbuddy Mike made this comment about not sweating the small stuff:
When the meteors are plummeting towards my house I do tend to sweat a little more, yes. ;-)

But really if it's out of my hands there's no point in fretting.
I have always enjoyed my online conversations with Mike because we often come at things from different perspectives.. I suspect Mike is a Type B personality and according to the results of this online quiz I am also a Type B.. though I was once a major Type A.. but I think that when it comes to worry I exhibit Type A behavior. Here is a clip from the wiki on personality type theory:
  • Type A individuals can be described as impatient, time-conscious, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are sometimes disliked by individuals with Type B personalities for the way that they're always rushing. They are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as "stress junkies."
  • Type B individuals, in contrast, are described as patient, relaxed, and easy-going under-achievers, generally lacking any sense of urgency. Because of these characteristics, Type B individuals are often described as apathetic and disengaged.
  • There is also a Type AB mixed profile for people who cannot be clearly categorized.

I certainly don't buy into the negative descriptions of both personality types but I do think that different personality types handle stress differently. There does seem to be a bit of evidence that some people have the ability to naturally not sweat the small stuff.. for others like me it takes a lot of effort to not worry.

What do you think? Do you think that some like me have more of a propensity to stress out and worry? Do you think that some are wired to just deal with stress in healthier ways? Or is it something else?

On Taking One Day at a Time

I recently told someone hurting to just take life one day at a time.. it is pretty good advice for most of us. Jesus Christ put it this way:

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." [MSG]

Here is a related comment that I left on a friend's blog yesterday:

I sometimes go back to the divine impressions I felt when my wife’s legs were paralyzed as we cruised the Gulf.. the voice of the Spirit challenged me to simply flow with God in my life and not try to manage life like a work project.. to live in simplicity.

It is really difficult for me most of the time.. I want to control.. but I think maybe simple things like joy and peace only come when we give up control.. maybe contentment only comes when we flow?
Worry is a way that we try to control tomorrow.. we try to out-think future events and just get frustrated. I think that part of giving up control is simply living in the now and entrusting tomorrow to the grace of God.


How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'. -Martin Luther

Procrastination isn't the problem, it's the solution. So procrastinate now, don't put it off. -Ellen DeGeneres

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. -Don Marquis

One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow. -Vincent T. Foss

Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. -Victor Kiam

Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow. -Gerald Vaughan

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. -Spanish Proverb

Procrastination is the thief of time. -Edward Young

Is it a cult?

I had a conversation this week with a friend about a mega-ministry here in KC and the question "Is it a cult?" came up. My take on cults is that there are three different aspects to religious cults:
  1. Personality Cults: These groups are generally centered around a usually very charismatic person.. these folks are often very good speakers and sometimes associated with some sort of gift.. often their leader takes on the title of prophet or apostle.. or some other important designation.

  2. Theological Cults: Sects that gather around a specific doctrinal system.. usually a very narrow one.. their definition of orthodoxy may not be exclusive to their doctrine but it is pretty close. Often these folks embrace an orthodoxy that is very black and white.. sometimes their beliefs embrace certain religious rites and behaviors.

  3. Community Cults: Often appearing in denominational form these groups can sometimes take the form of a church.. sometimes a mega-church.. but sometimes a smaller incarnation. People have an ultra-identity with the organization and cannot see spiritual life outside of the community. Many times folks in these groups believe that their group is the only way.. to heaven.. to spirituality.. to perfection.. or to something else.
Given these three aspects I think that it would be safe to say that almost every religious group has some cultic element.. even the best ones. I think that unhealthy environments are created when more than one of these aspects is present.. and when the unhealthiness is publicly manifested the group is labeled as a "cult".

On a personal note I was involved in a group for many years that I think had all three cultic aspects. I followed a charismatically gifted man.. I embraced a very narrow and legalistic theology.. and I stayed in the church because I really believed that we were more spiritual than other churches. To be sure not everyone who attended thought the way that I did.. but many did. So was I part of a cult? Hard to say.. but what I can say is that the environment was toxic for me.. it fed a dark part of me.. I was an unhealthy person back then.

So tell me what you think a cult is? Have you had any experiences with any or all of these cultic aspects? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear your story.

Why do we love Insurance Execs?

Yesterday morning I caught New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner advocate for a public health insurance option on Morning Joe.. you can catch the 13 minute video of the conversation here. In the course of the conversation the congressman compared the director of Medicare's $150,000 salary to the mega-millions that insurance company execs make as they collect premiums from us and supervise the disbursement of payments to doctors and hospitals. Curious guy that I am.. I googled a bit and found these numbers:
Aetna CEO: John Rowe
2005: 22.1 mil / 5-year:57.8 mil

Caremark Rx CEO: Edwin M Crawford
2005: 77.9 mil / 5-year: 93.6 mil

Cigna CEO: H. Edward Hanway
2005:13.3 mil / 5-year:62.8 mil

PacifiCare Health CEO: Howard Phanstiel
2005: 3.4 mil / 5-year: 8.5 mil

United Health Group CEO: William W McGuire
2005: 124.8 mil / 5-year: 342 mil

Well Choice CEO: Michael Stocker
2005: 3.2 mil / 5-year: 10.7 mil

WellPoint CEO: Larry Glasscock
2005: 23 mil / 5-year: 46.8 mil
So I was just wondering.. why is it that we love these guys so much? What have they done to merit all this advocacy that they are getting? Are they part of the solution or part of the problem?


What do they call a dentist who graduated at the bottom of medical school?

The Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act

Last month Steven Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, posted several entries to his blog about the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" jointly proposed by pro-lifer Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan and pro-choicer Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.Here are a few excerpts from his posts:
  • For starters, last time Planned Parenthood would not sign on to this bill. This time they did. So the legislation pretty much has the full support of the pro-choice world.
  • No major pro-life groups endorsed the bill, and Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee calls it "a scam" and especially criticizes portions of the bill that will end up funding groups like Planned Parenthood which, in addition to doing the family planning work they'll get money for, also performs abortions. As of now, I don't even see endorsements from Democrats for Life or Feminists for Life.
  • The pro-lifers who signed tend to be on the progressive side but the group does include a few who are moderates or even cultural conservatives, such as Rev. Joel Hunter of Lakewood Church, Rich Cizik, the former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Steven lists supporters (including Brian McLaren, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Sojourners and others) of the legislation here. He also posts an email correspondence with pro-life champion Jill Stanek here. In this correspondence Jill speaks to why some pro-lifers oppose the family planning aspects of this new legislation. Here are a few points she makes:
  • I would only support abstinence training with perhaps an explanation of the harm of contraceptives - the failure rate, that the pill is composed of artificial female steroids, etc.(Hormonal contraceptives are bad for women. They're simply artificial female steroids. If we understand the harm of male steroids, why not the harm of female steroids?)
  • Contraceptives are the root of abortion. "Contraceptive" means anti-conception. Contraceptives establish a mindset of hostility toward the blessing of children.
  • Sex outside of marriage is a sin. ... We need to teach that sex outside of marriage is categorically harmful.
  • Steve, for one thing, the idea of authorizing "lesser sins" to decrease "greater sins" is not Scriptural. In fact, Scripture teaches the opposite phenomenon occurs: Little sins lead to bigger sins.
I found Steven's posts on the new legislation to be thought provoking and I think that Jill presents an interesting view of why pro-life organizations are not supporting this legislation.

As I pondered the specifics of this new bill I was struck with the thought that this bill really will do little to reduce the need for abortions.. most of it proposes grants for family planning programs that counsel at risk teens and provide contraception planning for low-income families. I don't think that these types of programs have not worked in the past.. I may be wrong.. so I don't see how this legislation will have any impact on the need for abortions.

To me this issue seems to be more of an issue of why people have irresponsible sex.. it seems to be a much deeper issue than any government can deal with. What do you think? Do you feel that the issue is education about contraception or abstinence? Or is the issue about something else?

WiFi Nazis

This CNet article reminded me about how some coffee shops don't like you to sit around and poach their WiFi network while you sip on their coffee.. also reminded me of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. Here is a excerpt from the article that is reflective of that sentiment:
A sign in Naidre's expresses the owner's emotions on the subject very clearly: "Dear customers, we are absolutely thrilled that you like us so much that you want to spend the day...but people gotta eat, and to eat they gotta sit."

Some coffee shop owners in New York even cover up electric outlets, so that the enterprising, the impoverished students, the merely very lonely or the merely very brazen cannot boot up, sip java, and take up valuable table space all day.
On occasion I mooch WiFi at one of our local Panera Bread shops.. usually in the morning as I nosh on a bagel and their dark roast juice.. and when I do I notice that they have a sign that expresses the don't-hog-the-tables sentiment. Wonder how the bottom-line of these establishments would be affected if we WiFi geeks found more inviting venues? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you :)

$tyrofoam Cup Art

According to this article in the Orange County Register Sharpie drawn Styrofoam cup art like this is selling for $120 to $220 in Laguna Beach. Makes me want to get my Sharpie out, find some Styrofoam packing and move to California :)

Subject to Change

Heard it said once that the only thing that doesn't change is change it self.

Compassionate Healthcare

An interesting 2 minute video about Remote Area Medical (RAM).. a charitable organization that provides free medical, vision, and dental care for uninsured, under-insured, unemployed, under-employed. This week they served people in Los Angeles.

Easy Movie Quote Challenge

Here are ten short and easy movie quotes:
  1. "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."
  2. "Hello, gorgeous."
  3. "Bond. James Bond."
  4. "So let it be written, so let it be done."
  5. "I coulda been a contender."
  6. "Here's looking at you, kid."
  7. "It was Beauty killed the Beast."
  8. "It's alive! It's alive!"
  9. "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."
  10. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
Guess the movie that the quote originally appeared in and tell me how many you know and how many you don't. Feel free to google the answers.

Go Chiefs! Go Matt!

Tomorrow night the NFL schedule begins in my neck of the woods. The Kansas City Chiefs have a new quarterback, Matt Cassel, who has been signed to a mega-million multi-year contract.. the hopes of the team are somewhat resting on his arm and his leadership. He won't get much playing time tomorrow but I thought I'd take a minute to wish him and his teammates well.. for tomorrow and the whole season!

What is Love?

 And I Quote: Unless it is mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life - love should not be one of them. -Unknown

Barbara posted this quote the other day and it got me to thinking that it is a pretty good description of love.

Here is another definition that I was taught 30+ years ago:

    "Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person."

Do you have a good definition?

I Don't Understand this Rudeness

This two minute video from Senator Aren Specters town hall meeting yesterday shows the high emotions that are surfacing at these events.

I found this AP article that reports on yesterday's disruptions at Specters' meeting in Pennsylvania and Senator Claire McCaskill's in Missouri. Here are a few excerpts:
Sen. Arlen Specter said Wednesday he thinks people who have been angrily disrupting town hall meetings on overhauling the health care system are "not necessarily representative of America," but should be heard.

"It's more than health care," said Specter, 79, who earlier this year left the Republican Party and became a Democrat. "I think there is a mood in America of anger with so many people unemployed, with so much bickering in Washington ... with the fear of losing their health care. It all boils over."
Specter, who had another such forum scheduled Wednesday at State College, Pa., said he had been "impressed with the fact that people have been very well prepared." He said many have come to meetings with copies of the legislation and have cited specific provisions in their arguments.
"If they don't let us vent our frustrations out, they will have a revolution," Mary Ann Fieser of Hillsboro, Mo., told McCaskill at her Missouri health care forum. McCaskill admonished the rowdy crowd, saying "I don't understand this rudeness. I honestly don't get it."
Interesting that each senator had different reactions. Specter seems to get it and McCaskill doesn't. He seemed to focus on and understand the "anger" and she chose to focus on and not understand the "rudeness".

These "town halls" have been an interesting phenomenon.. at first I wasn't sure if I liked what was going on at these venues.. I am warming up to them though. People are coming out and putting a voice to the unrest in America. They may not be representative of America but they are representative of a part of it.

I think that our governmental leaders would do well to get past their own issues about rudeness and engage with those who disagree with them.

Your Ethical Gut

I liked what this article titled Why Your Gut Is More Ethical Than Your Brain had to say about the benefits of listening to your gut. Here are a few excerpts:
Consider a provocative series of experiments conducted by Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto. He put test subjects into interactions with an anonymous partner where they had two options: to treat their partners fairly or to lie to them. If they decided to lie, they would gain at the expense of their partners.

Before making the decision to cheat or be fair, the test subjects were given some guidance. Some were encouraged to think rationally about the situation and to ignore their emotions. Equipped with this advice, the great majority (69%) analyzed the situation and con-cluded that they should screw their partners. Others were primed to "make decisions based on gut feelings." Their guts were pretty trustworthy: Only 27% lied.

There's a twist: Even though the study shows that we would be treated better by people who trust their feelings, we're leery of them. When people were given a choice to interact with a rational decision-making partner or a gut-trusting one, 75% chose the rational partner.

Zhong concluded that "deliberative processes can license morally questionable behaviors by focusing on tangible monetary outcomes and reducing emotional influence." If only such behavior were limited to the lab.
The article talks about how easy it is to rationalize bad behavior in business and the subprime-mortgage debacle. Here is the way that the piece ends:

Guts aren't perfect. For instance, we tend to feel so much empathy for individuals that it can doom our efforts to be impartial and consistent. But in the business world, we've tipped too far toward pure rationality. We need an emotional counterweight -- and we already have it. When you're in an ethically loaded situation and your gut talks, listen to it.
I understand what they are saying.. most times when I have gone against my gut I regretted it. I often think about how many times my religious brain has trumped my heart (or gut) and got it all wrong. My propensity for rationalizing bad behavior is sometimes great.. it's power over my heart is sometimes frightening.. good reason to develop a strong gut/heart.

Are you mainly driven by your gut or your brain?

Ever Wear Platform Shoes?

Sad to say that I had one pair of platform shoes in the 70s.
How about you.. especially you guys.. ever own a pair?

December 21, 2012

Has anyone heard that the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012? There is a website dedicated to the day. Here is an excerpt from the wiki:

"The forecast is based primarily on what is claimed to be the end-date of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which is presented as lasting 5,125 years and as terminating on December 21 or 23, 2012, along with interpretations of assorted legends, scriptures, numerological constructions and prophecies."

Hmmm.. something to think about.. okay.. I am done thinking. What do you all think about this phenomenon? It reminds me of the many predictions about the second coming of Christ.

Caption This!

Yeah.. I could not resist ranting about this photo I took yesterday with my cellphone at a neighborhood restaurant. This TV is going all of the time sans the sound.

Hard to believe that someone thought that this was a good idea.

How would you caption this photo?

Eve of Destruction

I was reminded of this song this afternoon and thought I'd share it, and a few thoughts about it, with you. Barry McGuire sang this song around 1965.. it was a song that so captured the sentiment and turbulence of that era.

The late 1960s were troubling times for guys like me.. I can remember how two of my friends died in Vietnam.. I can remember being afraid of being drafted and being sent to Nam.. when I was drafted I enlisted for an extra year to keep out of the infantry. Things seemed so unsettling and out of control to young men like me.. I felt like my life was put on hold.. and wondered what my future would look like.

Things these days also seem a bit out of control.. especially in the middle east.. we are still losing troops overseas. I am glad that we do not have a draft.. yet I wonder how much war our country would tolerate if we did. I am thankful for those who serve our country overseas both now and back then.. and I am hoping that peace will reign.

Click here to see and hear Barry singing the song in 2007 with Christian recording artist Don Francisco and his wife Wendy. He looks different but then again who doesn't :)

Arguing on the Internet

Someone has been reading my blog :)

Economic Stress

A new Reuters article titled U.S. food stamp list tops 34 million for first time gives us a bit of a glimpse into the impact that our economy is having on people. The article sez:

Enrollment surged by 2 percent to reach a record 34.4 million people, or one in nine Americans, in the latest month for which figures are available.

It was the sixth month in a row that enrollment set a record. Every state recorded a gain, and Florida had the largest increase at 4.2 percent.

Enrollment for food stamps, which help people buy groceries, is highest during times of economic stress. The U.S. unemployment rate of 9.5 percent is the highest in 26 years.
People are hurting these days. Articles like this are a bit of a reality check for many of us.. and a call to prayer and action.

Having a Heart of Charity

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. -Bob Hope

The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. -St. Francis of Assisi

Christian life consists of faith and charity. -Martin Luther

True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense. -Emanuel Swedenborg

Lots of people think they're charitable if they give away their old clothes and things they don't want. -Myrtle Reed

Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it. -John D. Rockefeller

A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. -Jack London

Life as a Trajectory

This four minute video speaks to the differences between bounded and centered set thinking. These days I am trying more to reject a black and white bounded set mentality.. the centered set paradigm is such a gracious one.. but I think that you do need to accept a lot of grays to embrace it :)

The video reminds me that often life can be described as a trajectory towards or away from God. I wonder if the trajectory simply continues after we die? Maybe heaven and hell are expressions of those trajectories?

Technological Flops

From ZDNet's The decade's 25 biggest tech flops.. here are a few of the flops:
  • Smart Watch - received tidbits of information over the air via FM radio frequencies
  • Sony Aibo - mechanical dog that never quite caught on
  • SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) TV.. billed to be better that plasma and lcd versions.
  • Windows Media Center - I have one on my laptop.. I like it.. especially it's Netflix integration
  • Game Boy Micro - sometimes small is too small
  • Foleo - if Palm had called it a Netbook it might have been the first of its kind
Some people think the Zune should be added to the list but I think that the iPod wannabe still has a somewhat loyal following. For me I think that HD projection TVs might fit the category.. eventually.. mine lasted almost 5 years.

How about you? Any technology flops come to mind?

Emotional Intelligence

My cyberfriend Janna recently pointed to this article titled Emotional intelligence factors into employment. Here are a few thoughts from the article and other places about what Emotional Intelligence (EI) is:
  • the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills necessary to be successful in any role;
  • knowing how to manage yourself and relationships with others well;
  • knowing how to emotionally interact with people around you;
  • possessing self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to love and be loved by others;
  • controlling one's impulses and having social competence in interpersonal relationship.
There seems to be a general consensus that EI is more important that IQ.. and I have to agree. So often in my life IQ has simply gotten in the way of cooperating and working with other people. Here is the way that the article puts it:
  • “Employers will look for students coming out of college with strong interpersonal skills more so now than ever,” ... “Most employers I work with are frustrated with recent college graduates’ inability to communicate well with others.”
  • Adults with high emotional intelligence are more effective leaders and salespeople and have better personal and professional relationships.
I agree with the article when it says "A healthy balance of IQ and emotional intelligence is necessary". What do you think about this idea of being emotionally intelligent?

Redefining Christian Marriage

A new Christianity Today article authored by Dr. Mark Regnerus (author of Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers) and titled The Case for Early Marriage examines current Christian thinkings on premarital chastity and marriage. You can read the entire article here. Here are a few thought provoking excerpts:
"Sex will be so much better if you wait until your wedding night," they urged. If we could hold out, they said, it would be worth it. The sheer glory of consummation would knock our socks off.

Such is the prevailing discourse of abstinence culture in contemporary American evangelicalism. It might sound like I devalue abstinence. I don't. The problem is that not all abstainers end up happy or go on to the great sex lives they were promised. Nor do all indulgers become miserable or marital train wrecks. More simply, however, I have found that few evangelicals accomplish what their pastors and parents wanted them to.

Indeed, over 90 percent of American adults experience sexual intercourse before marrying. The percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower. In a nationally representative study of young adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church-going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort. I'm certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I'm suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don't and won't.
Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s. Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It's battling our Creator's reproductive designs.
For all the heated talk and contested referendums about defending marriage against attempts to legally redefine it, the church has already ceded plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness.
That last excerpt got me to thinking about how Christian marriage has changed in a short period of time. I think that many things have weighed into this change:
  1. Women: During World War II women entered the workforce in large numbers to back-fill positions left open when their male counterparts entered military service. In the 1960s the feminist movement picked up steam and changed the way that all people looked at women in the workplace.
  2. Men: With the rise of women in the workplace men also began to see their roles in society differently. Their image of fathering changed.. their desire to have a family seemed to be less important.. and the maturity level with regard to marriage commitment seemed to be different.
  3. Family: As goals around careers changed the notion of having children in your twenties seem to be pushed back to having kids in your thirties.. both my children were born when I was in my thirties.. it was pretty normal then and even more so now.
  4. Culture: The roles of women, men and families have changed our culture. The drive to wealth and success have somewhat redefined marital priorities. Large families seem to be very rare even amongst Christians. The difference between Christian and secularists are somewhat indistinguishable in these areas.
When I think about how many folks in America are trying to redefine marriage I just have to wonder if that is simply not as much of a redefinition as we have already experienced. The place that we are in today is so much different than where marriage was when I was young.. both inside and outside of Christianity.

What do you think.. about premarital chastity and about how marriage has been redefined? Does Dr. Regnerus' thoughts resonate with you about the relationship between chastity and waiting to get married?

Identity Theft Poll

My answer is "Some of the above".

I do infrequently check my credit report.. usually check my financial statements.. do shred stuff.. and limit my credit cards.. I also have Identity Theft insurance.

How would you answer this poll?