Happy 2014 !!

This image reminds me to not write my resolutions in ink ... to be a bit more flexible about things ... to find a way to flow with my dreams ... to think less in black and white.

I only have one resolution or goal in 2014 - to stretch more ... physically ... mentally ... emotionally. Not sure that I really know how to do it but the idea seems to challenge me.

How about you? Do you have any goals or resolutions for the New Year?

Explanations and Faith

Yesterday I wrote about the first sentence of this Aquinas quote. Today I hit the last sentence. Over the years I have had many conversations with wonderful people who do not have faith or have lost faith - and yes I do understand the theological hoops that some jump through with regard to the possibility or impossibility of losing faith. This is not about that.

I think that explanations, or the lack of them, are often cause for a rejection of faith. Sometimes unexplainable things happen to us and the people that we love. Often explanations, even biblical ones, fall short and do not make sense. Generally speaking, I have found people who reject faith to be thoughtful people seeking explanations.

A common denominator of those who reject faith seems to involve explanations - ones concerning evil ... about the origins of the universe ... things that seem unexplainable to them. Yet somehow there are some who are able to embrace faith with their heart, see past bad explanations and embrace things unknowable with the help of the One they know.

Funny Quotes ...

        ... a few clips and quips to get you smiling the day after Christmas.  ツ

"Humor is just another defense against the universe." -Mel Brooks

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." -Anonymous

"The meal is not over when I'm full. The meal is over when I hate myself." -Louis C. K.

"I hate life, I hate death and everything in between just doesn't interest me." -Chris Rapier

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a rich widow." -Evan Esar

"All power corrupts, but we need the electricity." -Unknown

"The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young." -Willa Cather

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." -Voltaire

"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of." -Burt Bacharach

"He's turned his life around. He used to be depressed and miserable. Now he's miserable and depressed." -David Frost

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." -Dorothy Parker

"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters." -Solomon Short

"The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear." -Herbert Agar

"Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that's not true.
Some smaller countries are neutral." -Robert Orben

"If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane." -Jimmy Buffett

Merry Christmas

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government
shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Caroling with Yoda

A Christmas funny from the Shoebox blog along with a holiday Q&A.

Q) Do you plan to carol this year?
A)  Only in the shower.  ツ

Q) Are you planning to watch any movies before 2014?
A)  On Thursday we are watching "It's a Wonderful Life" with the neighbors.

Q) Have you mailed Christmas cards yet?
A)  Got them out about 10 days ago.

Q) What is your favorite Christmas Carol?
A)  O Holy Night

Q) Your favorite Christmas memory?
A)  Watching my young kids open presents.

Please join in the fun and share your answers in the comments section.

The Ivory and Gold Tablecloth

Following is a sweet story from my email inbox. It was originally written by Howard C. Schade for the December 1954 issue of Reader's Digest. It is a great story of mystery, hope and providence to share before right Christmas.

The story is told of a brand new pastor and his wife, that arrived in suburban Brooklyn in early October excited about their opportunity to reopen a church. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, and whatnot. And on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder and hangers to put the tablecloth up as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was as white as a sheet.

"Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained how he had found it at the flea market. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were her initials, and she had made this tablecloth 16 years before, in Austria. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, feeling that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve! The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he had gotten the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again.

The pastor asked him if the man would allow him to take him for a short ride. They drove to Staten Island, to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

The Longest Night

As we prepare for Christmas it is always good to remember that this is a very difficult time for many among us. I have three friends who will be, for the first time, celebrating Christmas without their spouses. It gives me a heavy heart. So on this day when the night is the longest, I find myself thinking about this meditation (posted below), written in 2001 by Rev. Diane Hendricks. As you read it please think about and pray for those who are hurting so much this season.

Longest Night Meditation

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Only it's not.

  • Not for everyone.
  • Not when there is an empty chair at the table.
  • Not when your body is ravaged with illness.
  • Not when the depression is too much to bear.
  • Not without her voice joining yours on the Christmas carols.
  • Not when you feel all alone even in a crowd.
  • Not when you are not sure you can even afford the rent or mortgage, let alone the presents.
  • Not when they are trying their best to the best of you.
  • Not when another Christmas party means he will come home drunk again.
It's the most wonderful time of the year?

No, it's not.

And trying to smile and say Merry Christmas is more than difficult. It's pretty near impossible.

C.S. Lewis once wrote:

"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning..."
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it's not.

  • Not after he has died.
  • Not after the doctor gave you the news.
  • Not after they told you they would be downsizing.
  • Not after... you fill in the blank.
  • Not after September 11.
  • Not when there is so much violence and destruction in the world.
In truth, it has never been the most wonderful time of the year. Certainly not in the days surrounding that first Christmas so long ago. The story of the birth of Jesus is not to be told with a jolly voice and a merry ho-ho-ho.
It is the story of a teenage girl, pregnant with a child that is not her husband's.

It is the story of a child born in a dirty animal stall.
It is the story of a family of refugees who had to flee their homeland so that their child would not be killed.
It is the story of one sent into the world in peace who was condemned to death.
It is the story of a light sent to shine in the darkness, which the world snuffed out.
It is the story of God's never-ending, self-giving mercy which was rejected and condemned.
In the great work the Messiah, Handel quotes the prophet Isaiah, proclaiming that Jesus was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." One great theologian reminds us that we cannot come to the manger without acknowledging that it lays in the shadow of the cross.

It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it is! It is:
  • If we forget about the tinsel and the trees.
  • If we forget about the holly jolly tidings.
  • If we forget about the presents and the ornaments and the trappings.
And remember. Remember the story.
  • Mary was alone and afraid.
    But God was with her and exalted her among women.
  • Joseph was disgraced.
    But God revealed in Joseph's cause for disgrace God's plan to save the world.
  • The world was in darkness.
    But God sent the light of life to shine.
  • The lowly were imprisoned.
    But Jesus set them free.
  • The blind wandered aimlessly.
    But Christ gave them eyes to see.
  • The lame were rejected.
    But through the Holy One they were made to leap and dance.
  • The deaf were confined to the silence.
    But the song of life unstopped their ears.
  • The sorrowful grieved.
    But God wipes away our tears.
  • We were alone.
    But in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.
  • The people rejected God.
    But God embraces us.
  • The world crucified Christ.
    But God would not allow that to be the last word, and gave us the sure hope of the resurrection.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, not because you have to be cheery and happy and merry.

But because you don't.

You can have heavy spirits and shattered dreams. Broken hearts and deep wounds.

And still God comes to be with you.
  • To comfort you.
  • To redeem you.
  • To save you.
  • To restore you.
  • To empower you.
  • To strengthen you.
  • To grant you peace.
  • To be raised for you.
  • To hold you in the communion of saints with those whom you have loved and lost.
  • To store your tears in his bottle.
  • To offer you eternal life.
It is the most wonderful time of the year.
For Christ is born.
Love has come.
God is with us!
Thanks be to the Lord our God.

Retired Fridays

When you are retired, Fridays ...
  1. are pretty much like every other day,
  2. remind you that the weekend is not that special,
  3. make you get out and shop before the crowds show up,
  4. keep you away from the date-night restaurants,
  5. confront you with the fact that you are retired. 
Any retired folks out there with something to add to the list?

Can you love and not like?

A few weeks ago I heard someone say about another person "I love them but I do not like them!"
I literally laughed out loud. What an absurd thought. I tried to clarify by asking if they meant to say that they loved them but did not like what that person did or is doing. No, they meant what they said and felt that it was perfectly logical to say that you love someone but do not like them. My reaction is that I really do not see much difference between loving and liking a person. And in a very real sense it is more important to like the person than it is to love them. Because it you like them, even though they may do things that you do not like, you will hang around them more and, perhaps, find a way to love them. In contrast, if you are focused on their behavior or their appearance (which you do not like) you will probably never really develop a relationship with them where you will have a chance to know them. And I think that it is healthier to admit that we do not love a person that to hide behind the "love but not like" cliché. Then we can come to grips with the things that keep us from loving.

Man of Steel | ★★★★★★

How do you improve on perfection? How does one, as they say, gild the lily? That is what this years reprise of Superman attempts to do. The makers try to do it by telling the story in a non-chronological fashion that relies on our thorough understanding of the story. They do it by recrafting the plot to include a Lois that meets Clark before the Daily Planet. They do it without Lex Luthor. It's an interesting reimagining of Superman.

The movie does suffer from too-long fight scenes and endless destruction of buildings. I liked Henry Cavill in the lead but kept comparing him to Reeves iconic portrayal. Russel Crowe was good as Jor El but Amy Adams didn't quite do it for me as Lois. I thought Crowe matched Brando but Adams paled against Kidder. These comparisons are unfair but represent many who loved the 1978 movie.

In recap: I liked the movie and enjoyed the high tech improvements but thought that it was too long and in need of editing. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

The Season of Giving until it Hurts

“We only have what we give.” -Isabel Allende

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” -Charles Dickens

“Give, but give until it hurts.” -Mother Teresa

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” -Maya Angelou

“Never look down on a person unless you are helping him up.” -POB Bismark

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” -John Holmes

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” -John Bunyan

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Top Ten Historical Figures

Ever wonder if those Wikipedia pages we occasionally peruse really matter? Steve Skiena and Charles Ward think that they do. These guys used quantitative analysis to rank and compare historical reputations. They evaluated each person by aggregating the traces of millions of opinions, just as Google ranks webpages, and came up with this list.

Looking at their top ten, I find it interesting that the list includes famous and infamous types. Causes me to ponder which folks have impacted history the most. Seeing Shakespeare in the number three spot helps me to remember that often the pen is mightier than the sword. Seeing Aristotle in the ranks of political leaders reminds me that great thoughts and ideas are powerful. Lastly, the rankings of Jesus and Muhammad communicate to us about the influence of spiritual leaders on planet earth. What do you think of the list? Do you agree with the rankings? Would you replace anyone?

Favorite Christmas Movies

My top three Christmas movies in no particular order ...
  • The Nativity Story :: Many scenes moved me at a deep level and engaged me emotionally. Watching Joseph tell Mary that he believed her and would be a father to Jesus was spectacular. Check out my review here.
  • It's a Wonderful Life :: I loved how a man's quiet life of charitable living was vindicated by angelic visitation. The last scene is one of my favorites of all time.
  • A Christmas Carol :: The transformation of Scrooge at the end of the movie is a great scene. Would that we all have such dreams of angelic visitation.
Some of the other Christmas movies I like are: Home Alone; Trading Places; and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. What are your top three Christmas movies?

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

The Sound of Music Live! | ★★★★★★★

I was so happy when I heard that NBC was airing a live performance of my all time favorite musical. The casting of Carrie Underwood was a brilliant move as she has a wonderful voice and the star power necessary to attract a huge audience - which it did. Some compared her with Julie Andrews but I tried to stay clear of that.

I loved the songs - even the new ones added seemed to help tell the story. The kids were great and the supporting cast did a credible job. Who knew that some of these TV folks had such great voices? The show was different from the movie as it was based on the stage version. I thought the scene transitions were done well.

All that said, who is not moved by "Climb Every Mountain" or does not feel joy when the kids sing "Do, Re, Mi"? To me the joy was more in the story and not in critiquing or comparing the performances. In the end, the story won out for me.

I really liked the show and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Contentment Quiz

"Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody." -Benjamin Franklin

Had an online dialog a few weeks ago with a guy about what it means to be content with suffering. Though he leads a large number of people he just did not seem to "get it" as he spoke of a person who is fighting back and was overcoming their adversity. So I thought of a few questions about being content. Would you be content to:
  • be stuck in traffic for a long time with no chance to get off?
  • live in poverty with no hope of a better future for your kids?
  • only eat food that you do not like while you desire other food?
  • drive a car that is need of repair and constantly breaks down?
  • be imprisoned for life for a crime that you did not commit?
I think that these questions might give you a sense of what it means to be content with suffering. In my view contentment involves a surrender of control. It means accepting life as it is but not giving up on your dreams. And sometimes it means dreaming new dreams. What do you think of when you hear the word contentment?

In Search of Bacon Seeds

Friends are the Bacon Bits in the Salad Bowl of Life. -unknown

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds
if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. -Doug Larson

Even apocalypse looks less dire when viewed over a plate of bacon. -Stephanie Stamm

Advent Devotions

Do you celebrate Advent?

You can click here for an explanation of it.

Today I am beginning a series of Advent devotions.

You can read them on my other blog.

A Month of Thanksgiving

During November I shared each day (well almost every day) about the things that I am thankful for at my other bog, An Eye for Redemption. Thought that I might share a few excerpts here from those thankful thoughts.

The dawn of each day seems to bring with it the hope of a second chance.

It speaks to me of the way that the Holy Spirit causes us to rise above our circumstances and be so much more than we think that we can be.

When we live from the heart we are able to say no to things that are not good for us.

I am so thankful for being here to experience the joys and sorrows of life.

When I am down and discouraged I find hope and encouragement in the God authored dreams he has given me.

In hindsight I can see God's providential hand in the closing of doors and in new opportunities.

People like these have shown me by their example what it is like to live for God.

When we forgive them we are released from all sorts of bitterness and anger.

I so give thanks to God for a country that was founded on a love for liberty and the proposition that all men are equal.

God stooped down to work with people, their limited understandings and the influences of their cultures.

The smallest seed of faith, planted in our heart, can change everything - in 1976 it rocked my world!

The Lady | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

A few years ago I heard the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's leading pro-democracy reformer, who was held under house arrest, separated from her English husband and two sons, for 15 years. Last night I finally got a chance to see the film that was inspired by her story. I think that the words on the image on the left speak to her greatness. This beautiful woman started out as a wife and mother. Under much trial and suffering as a prisoner she became a hero to her people and freedom lovers all over the world. The story speaks to her courage and triumph in the face of evil.

In 1991 she followed in the footsteps of of Martin Luther King Jr. by winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her persistent work of nonviolent change in Burma. Her sacrifices of family and freedom are so inspirational. Her willingness to risk all for her country spoke deeply to me about the nature of people who want to be free.

I liked the movie, recommend it to you, and on a scale of ten give it ★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Listening to Reply

I do not like the sentiment in this image because I am always listening to reply. I am always wanting to debate with my teammates. I am so insecure about my views that I need to reinforce them by constantly speaking about them.

In contrast, I so want to be a man that listens. I want to be a person who can learn from the life lessons that others can teach me. I want to be one who listens not only with my ears but with my heart. Even to folks that I disagree with.

I pray that we all may have ears to really hear - and listen to understand!

Team or Seminary

Gotta love Peanuts!

This cartoon strip points to the way that we in the church see ourselves.

Do we see ourselves as a team or just a group of religious debaters?

The answer speaks to how we treat each other.

Sadly I too often fall into the role of debating with my teammates.

I pray that I will take on the role of teammate more than debater.

I want to be one who loves, blesses and encourages my teammates.

How about you? Debater or teammate?

Technical Difficulties

I love how this Shoebox Cartoon reminds us that sometimes technology does not deliver on the promised relief that many thought that it would. Sometimes even commenting on blogs is laden with obstacles like captcha and moderation - do folks really get that much spam and nasty comments? Why not require user identification?

It seems that 'bad people' have always made it hard for the rest of us. Because of these nasty folks we are patted down at airports, our phone calls are monitored, people's privacy is invaded and folks identities are stolen. Sad that the evil of the few has affected so many of us. Not that having good passwords are a bad idea! ツ

PT 109 | JFK in WWII

I remember reading this book when President Kennedy was still alive. As a young teen I so admired this story. On this 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination I give you this description of the book:

Seventeen years before John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States - in the early morning of August 2, 1943, to be exact - a PT or Motor Torpedo Boat under his command was rammed and sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer in the waters of Blackett Strait, in the Solomon Islands. Kennedy's wartime career had been unremarkable to that point. He had shown a talent for scrounging the occasional loaf of bread or haunch of New Zealand mutton for his crew, he had nearly destroyed a refuelling dock in his rush to be the first PT boat returning from overnight patrols, and he was a congenial and businesslike commander of his tiny boat with its crew of twelve. The PT boats were the terriers of the Pacific Fleet, yapping at the enemy's heels but rarely getting the chance for heroics, and PT109 was no exception.

Kennedy's first direct confrontation with an enemy ship was the one that sank his boat. There was no time to react; in the concealing darkness, with no radar, the destroyer was inside torpedo range before they saw it. In the aftermath of the ramming, as the destroyer swept away and fired two shots back at the broken and burning PT boat, and with an injured back, Kennedy gathered his surviving crew to the derelict forward section of the boat, which was still floating. Kennedy swam into the darkness and towed the injured back to the hulk. He would spend 30 of the next 36 hours in the water, during which time he and the crew swam three miles to a small island with Kennedy towing a badly burned survivor.

Over the next three days Kennedy placed his life at risk in the effort to secure the rescue of his crew, which was finally effected on day 4. Only two men were lost, and those at the time of the collision. In September 1943 Kennedy assumed command of PT59 and was promoted to Lieutenant. In October he plucked 50 marines from the water beneath enemy guns. In November, suffering from a ruptured disc and malaria, Kennedy was directed by a doctor to leave his command, and returned stateside in early 1944 weighing just 125 pounds.

President Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal and the Purple Heart. In August 1963, three months before his assassination, Kennedy wrote: "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, 'I served in the United States Navy'".

Bloody Personalities

Did you know Furukama Takeji, a Japanese researcher, believed that certain personality traits can be linked to your blood type? Granted that there is no scientific documentation to prove his theory but it is fun to see how his assessments compare with our realities. I checked my type below and found it to be mostly accurate. Find your blood type and tell me what you think about this personality type theory.

Type O: You are sociable and very outgoing. You are an initiator, even though you don’t always finish what you’ve started. Innovative and popular, you like to be the center of spotlight and appear very self confident. O’s are most compatible with other O’s and AB’s.

Type A: While outwardly calm, you are such a perfectionist that you’re likely to be a ball of nerves inside. You’re the most artistic of the blood groups. You can be shy, conscientious, trustworthy, and sensitive. A’s are most compatible with other A’s and AB’s.

Type B: Result oriented and strong minded, type B people will start a job and continue until it is completed, and completed well. You are the individualists of the blood groups and find your own way in life. B’s are most compatible with other B’s and AB’s.

Type AB: You are the split personalities of the blood groups. You can be both outgoing and shy in the same time, confident and timid. You are usually responsible, but too much responsibility will cause problems. You are trustworthy and like to help others. AB’s are compatible with AB’s, B’s, A’a and O’s.

Christmas in November?

This cartoon reminds me of how crazy retailers are about Christmas shopping. Many have gone black-Friday-overboard by actually opening on Thanksgiving Day.

You can ask my wife and she will tell you that I am usually not an advocate of shutting down stores on Sundays and most holidays (like Veterans Day or Labor Day) but really.

Isn't Thanksgiving more about being with Family and remembering our blessings? Shouldn't the day be one where employees have an opportunity to be with Family?

Old Chiefs or New Chiefs?

I was a season ticket holder in the late 90s and absolutely loved the winning atmosphere in Arrowhead Stadium back then - even though we never really made it far in the playoffs (when we got there). Those winning days gave way to the mediocre ones of the past ten years. Last year the team hit an all-time low when they lost fourteen of their sixteen games.

Then came this season! All I can say is wow! The Kansas City Chiefs have not lost one of their first nine games. Even so they are getting no respect and are the underdogs this evening when they play their arch-rivals, the Denver Broncos who have only lost one game.

And the question on the minds of die-hard fans like me is which KC team will show up. Will the old sad-sack team be there or will this new, tougher and smarter team come to play? Obviously, I am hoping the New Chiefs will show up tonight! Go Chiefs!!

Putting up with the Rain

Saw this last month, clipped it and just had to share it ...

Sometimes it is really really difficult to be thankful on the rainy days - those days when your heart is breaking and your bones are aching. Always helpful for me to remember that I do not have to thankful for the pain but I can absolutely be joyful when I am going through all sorts of painful trials and gut-wrenching sufferings.

Technical Problems

My obsessive personality got the best of me last night when I was talking to a GoDaddy tech and before I knew it I had a kansascitybob.com domain name.

Unfortunately the GoDaddy tech entered a wrong server name and kansasbob.com was not forwarding to the new domain this morning. I am still having a few issues that I hope to resolve by tomorrow morning.

Please drop me a note or leave a comment and let me know if this popped up in your reader or not.

Game Change | ★★★★★★★★

Ann and I watched this movie about the 2008 McCain presidential campaign last week. The movie actually surprised me. Here are a few thoughts:

  •  I came away with a greater respect for Sarah Palin. She is a strong woman.
  •  John McCain made an uncomfortable political selection for his VEEP.
  •  McCain and his staff tried to make Palin something that she was not.
  •  Sarah would not be handled and manipulated. She just wanted to be herself.
  •  Politics is a nasty business that is not suited for principled people.
  •  Sarah came off as a patriotic person that was not ready for the VEEP job.
  •  McCain was right: Sarah needed to be surrounded by people who love her.
  •  Julianne Moore rocked as Sarah. Woody Harrelson was good as Steve Schmidt.
  •  The book authors did a biased but pretty good job reporting on the campaign.

Depending on your political view, you may see this movie in a different light. Just don't get sucked into the politics of it but see it as a study in what campaigns do to people.
I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★.

Communion as a Meal

“Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion, and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.” -Jesse Browner

Growing up Episcopal I served as an altar boy and helped the priest prepare for communion. These days I attend a church that treats communion in a way similar to the Episcopals where folks line up with hands outstretched for a taste of the wine and bread.

It is difficult for me to see such sacramental expressions as a meaningful representation of the Last Supper. The images of people standing in line seems to lack of the heart and soul of what it means to commune with God and with each other. On the flip-side, I so enjoy the meals that I so often share with friends and family. My thinking is that these meals are what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples to do this (i.e. share a meal together) in remembrance of me.

More United than Divided

This cartoon strip reminds me of how we can allow small things to divide us over the silliest things.
I suggest that we ponder the following things when we determine to major on the minors:
  • Most of us have experienced love and we all have opportunities to show love.
  • The sun shines and the rain falls on each and everyone one of us.
  • We all value qualities in each other like courage, kindness, honesty and humility.
  • Time stops for none of us. We each have 24 hours in a day. We all will one day die.
  • Everyone wants to believe that there is more to life than what we experience each day.
  • Our bodies are more alike than different - we each have the same life giving organs.
  • Humans beings all suffer. We each are in need of encouragement when we are down.
I know there are more! What things would you add to my list of the ways that we are alike?

Ender's Game

My friend Bob (who unlike me lives in Kansas) recently sent me his thoughts about this new movie ...

I went to see this film that I had greatly anticipated with a young lady who's company I have had the pleasure to share a few times recently. I was very enthusiastic in promoting it to her, being confident that I was offering some quality movie entertainment, having read the book years ago and loving it. In fact, I read the whole series that Card created back in the late 70's and 80's. Unfortunately, I was let down by the movie's excessive melodrama during the first half of the film. In fact, I was a little embarrassed at the weak performance by Harrison Ford and most of the child actors. Throughout the first 1/2 to 3/5ths of the film. I felt I was leading myself into giving her the impression that I didn't know what a good Sci Fi movie looked like.

The film version of the story focused excessively on the emotional and physical isolation of Ender, claiming he was brilliant strategist/tactician when it came to playing video games and dealing with other children who are macho or disturbed "wunderkind" recruited to fight the "buggers". The directors seemed to think that if he had the kids talking like street gang leaders without the vulgar language, the audience would be wowed and sucked into the weak and often impotent bravado displayed on the screen by a bunch of unknown 14-15 year olds.

I don't want to completely dis the film because it was entertaining. I just felt the drama was way overdone and that it didn't do justice to Card's writing. Harrison Ford was particularly obnoxious and unrealistic in his crabby militaristic role as the space camp training office with the amazing insight to Ender's skills that no one else could fathom. He, the barracks sergeant, and several of the other children were all very unbelievable. Would I see the movie if I knew what I know now about it's delivery? Yes, certainly. But I won't bother to see it a second time.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Opinions about Opinions

"When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to
change ourselves." -Viktor Frankl

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we are not really living.
Growth demands a temporary surrender of security." -Gail Sheehy

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul." -Mark Twain

Blockbuster Memories

Just heard that Blockbuster Video is closing all of it's stores in the USA. The news caused me to flash back to the days before Netflix. You remember those days. The times before streaming videos and Red Box dispensing machines. Memories of trips in the car on weekend nights to get the latest VCR and hoping that it was not sold out. And then there was the Nintendo games that the kids always wanted to rent. It seems like just a few years ago. Fond memories of a simpler time in my life.

Disappearing in our Lifetimes?

There is a viral message that has been circulating for a few years now. It is usually titled "Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime". Here are a few items from the list with my commentary:
  • Television: Google Fiber is being installed in our building this month. Their service seems to marry high speed connection with TV channels. In the years ahead I think that our culture will complete the transition from antennas to internet connections. Perhaps all TV shows will be on demand in the future?
  • Paper Books and Newspapers: If you printed this post and are reading it on paper, you may disagree with me on this one. Kidding aside, many people these days are getting more and more information online.
  • The Post Office: Bureaucratic organizations seem to take a long time to die - the USPS continue to lose money every day but stays in business. That said, I think that things like email and FedEx will cause the postal service to become something different. And maybe stamps will one day be antiques?
  • Checks: I have to admit that we use these paper vouchers a lot less than when we were young. These days cash, credit/debit cards and auto-withdrawals seem to cover most of the things that we purchase. Even so, I will not be putting a chip in my arm or taking a mark on my forehead. ツ
  • Land Line Telephones: This month Ann and I are losing our internet wired (VOIP) phone connection and going to only use our cell phones. This seems to be a growing trend in the world. That said, I think that land lines will be here for a long time as people continue to explore VOIP solutions.
What's your take? Can you relate? Where do you see things like this going in the future?

Falling Back Again

This Sunday we in the United States, and other places in the world, once again will adjust our clocks before we go to bed on Saturday night. To commemorate the occasion I give you a few snippets from this US News and World Report article:
  • Officially, it's "daylight saving time," not "daylight savings time."
  • Transitions into and out of DST can disturb people's sleeping patterns.
  • When daylight saving time ends in the fall, heart attacks briefly become less frequent than usual.
  • A study concluded that observing DST year-round would annually prevent about 195 deaths of motor vehicle occupants and about 171 pedestrian fatalities.
  • Many other countries observe daylight saving time, but not all do so on the same day. That can create confusion for international travelers and business communications.
  • Daylight saving time was first used during World War I, as part of an effort in the United States and other warring countries to conserve fuel.
  • The first American to advocate for daylight saving was Benjamin Franklin.
Generally speaking I like Daylight Saving Time. Yet I must confess that I do grieve a bit when we lose it this time of the year. So hard seeing the sun set so early. What comes to your mind when you think about Daylight Saving Time?

The Month of Thanksgiving

Today I began a 30 day journey of giving thanks on my other blog. I began by giving thanks for Ann. Feel free to follow along with me here and maybe even share something that you are thankful for over there in a brief comment. Also let me know if you do something similar on your blog.


“We understand how dangerous a mask can be.
We all become what we pretend to be.” -Patrick Rothfuss

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.” ―Andre Berthiaume

Life is a Roller-Coaster

Life is a roller-coaster, not a monorail. -Dr John Walton, Wheaton College

Heard Dr Walton say this yesterday (he is the Old Testament teacher in the Bible in 90 Days study) when he was commenting on the book of Ecclesiastes.  I loved the way that he spoke of Solomon giving up the quest to finding meaning in life and simply enjoying the simple things that God sets before us. I felt that it set me free a bit of my desire to find some sort of mystical meaning in sufferings and hardships. Hearing him say that the roller-coaster life is normal affirmed something deep inside of me. I think that it gave me a permission of sorts to be content with the physical difficulties that challenge me each day. Not that I will now like roller-coasters. ツ

Christian Stereotype Sanity Check

Relevant Magazine speaks to the issue of how Christians, and Christianity, are often marginalized by stereotypical views. Here are a few of those stereotypes with explanations from the article:
  • Christians are Republican: A 2008 Barna study found 51 percent of Republicans have spiritual beliefs that qualify them as “born again” Christians. Significantly fewer Democrats hold the same beliefs, but it’s still a pretty high amount: 38 percent.
  • Christianity is Mainly an American Thing: There are 2.18 billion Christians around the world. And only 11.3 percent of those live in the U.S.
  • Christians Think They’re Better Than Everyone Else / Are Hypocritical: According to a Barna Group study, 51 percent showed Pharisaical attitudes and actions while just 14 percent showed Christ-like attitudes and actions. 21 percent showed Christ-like attitudes but Pharisaical actions.
  • Christians Don’t Care About Science: A 2009 Pew survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found 33 percent of scientists believe in God and 18 percent more don’t believe in God but do believe in some sort of "higher power."
  • Christians Have The Same Divorce Rates As Those Outside the Church: A study in the Journal of Religion and Society found that Christians have a slightly lower divorce rate (37 percent) than non-Christians (44 percent). The rates varied between traditions and were significantly lower among those with frequent church attendance.
What I glean from the piece (read it in full here) is that many of us (I know this is true for me) have embraced these stereotypes and continue to proliferate them. Perhaps this article might help to educate and inform us a bit?

Healthcare Mulligan

Sometimes we just need a do over!

The Idol of Certainty

"If I am anxiously striving to make myself feel certain that all my beliefs are true, fearfully avoiding anything that might cause me to doubt them, and fearfully suppressing any doubts that I may already be experiencing, doesn’t this indicate that I am not getting my core need for love, worth, and security from the God who is revealed on the cross? " -Greg Boyd, Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty

I can so relate to having a quest for certainty and trying to eliminate every doubt. Then I read about how Mother Teresa had, and lived with, doubts in her later years. I agree with Cal Thomas when he says:

"It is by looking beyond our circumstances in a fallen world and beyond doubt that we find hope and faith. Perhaps Mother Teresa's doubt lasted longer than most, but doubt is not the same as disbelief and in her actions as well as her words, she exhibited more faith than any doubter -- or non-doubter -- I have known."

Reversing Nerve Damage

If successful, a new remyelinating antibody called rHIgM22 may help reverse nerve damage caused by MS. In a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., a “first-in-human” trial of the drug rHIgM22 to repair nerve damage caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) is currently recruiting volunteers.

Earlier animal studies of rHIgM22 showed improvements in motor activity, meaning a possible reversal of disability. If successful, this could be a groundbreaking achievement, particularly for those with progressive forms of MS, for which there are no treatments currently available. Read more about this drug trial here.

Conviction | ★★★★★★★★

This 2010 movie was a very pleasant surprise. It reminded me of "The Wronged Man", a 2010 made-for-tv movie about a woman who fought for 15 years to obtain the release of an innocent man. Both movies are based on true stories about women who worked with "The Innocence Project" to pursue justice for imprisoned men.

Where I think the movies part is in the stories of the two women. In this movie the love, the drive and the motivation of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) takes your breath away. After her brother is convicted of murder she never stops believing that he is innocent - even when he asks her to give up she never does. This amazing high school drop out gets her GED, undergraduate degree and a law degree all to pursue justice for her brother. Her unstoppable love for her brother is simply inspirational.

I really liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

On being fully alive ...

“Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

The quote above and the one to the right remind me how older folks often tell young people to find something that you love doing and find a way to make money doing it. I think that it is so much easier to say than to do. Even so, I found such a job in 1976 when I became a computer programmer. Something inside of me just clicked when I was designing software. It was not all that much different than what I think an artist must feel when they are painting or sculpting. It reminds me that so much of our spiritual life is not found in religious settings but in the places where we are filled with the joy of doing the things that behold God and cause our inner beings to come alive. Can you relate?

Star Wars Mogul

Which Star Wars Actor Became Enormously Wealthy Off The Film’s Royalties?

        •  Harrison Ford

        •  Alec Guinness

        •  James Earl Jones

        •  Mark Hamill

The answer is supplied to us by the How-to-Geek here.   Let me know how you did.

Eat Bacon :: Live Longer

According to an article titled "Study shows eating Bacon will make you live Longer" ...
Science has enriched the lives of bacon-lovers everywhere. A study conducted by researchers at ETH Zurich has concluded that the high levels of Vitamin B3 (known as niacin) in this meat could help you live longer.
And they told me bacon would kill me! Lets all give "science" a standing ovation!

The Blogger formerly known as Kansas Bob

One of my blogging friends posted recently about how she wanted to use a Blogspot name that is not available because it was used many years ago and is now defunct. It reminded me of how many of my friends gave me the business when I moved to Kansas City, Missouri in June, 2010. They said that I could no longer be known as Kansas Bob simply because I no longer lived in Kansas.

Over the years I have vacillated wondering if I should bother changing my blog and my blogging identity - and should I even attempt to go with a different URL? In recent days I have made a few changes. I now appear on your comment feed as "KC Bob" and my blog banner says "Kansas City Bob". Not sure that I will ever change the URL though as kcbob.com is already taken. ツ

Expectations get us in trouble ...

Mark and Angel offer an interesting perspective in the post titled "7 Things You Should Stop Expecting from Others". Here are the first three expectations their list ...
  • Agreement: I so agree that we should not expect this from people. In their words "You have to dare to be yourself, and follow you own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be."
  • Respect: "True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it." That is spot on and is deserving of others' respect.
  • Being Liked: Man can I ever relate to this. I cannot even think of one time that pleasing others has ever done anything for me. I so agree that "In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself."
The fourth item on their list is the one that has gotten me in a lot of trouble. Here is how they frame it: "Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are." I think that this has troubled me most in religious settings where I expect people to act in accordance with my understanding of the words pastor or even Christian. And in other settings even words like friend or father can create unrealistic expectations. Sad how these expectations cause us to judge each other.