Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Lee Camp has been teaching our class this month. I hate to see him go--we change teachers every month.

He has been talking about the Rule of Benedict. It is hard for me to believe that my fellowship is so late in learning about spiritual people and topics that the world has known about for years. I actually had someone ask me last Sunday who Thomas Merton was. I am sorry he has not known him all these years.

Listening was the topic last Sunday and a very important one it is. Silence and solitude allow us to listen to the Spirit who may have been shouting at us for a long time, but we did not have ears to hear.

There are so many things to listen to these days which have no value morally or spiritually. If I see another person with that blue thing hanging on his ear, I think I am going to snatch it off. Think of the things he is missing--the perfect blue sky above, the conversation of his child hanging on his hand, the cries of help from so many around him, etc. I can't imagine filling my ear with music, no matter how grand, all the time. Time is too short and life is too precious. Is this a legitimate concern? Or am I just getting old and crochety?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Current Stupidity

When I read that one in every twelve students in school in Tennessee go to school hungry, I just had to turn the TV advertisements from fast food places off! All that stuff about supersizing in a culture where children are hungry-- give me a break.

I am tired of the presidental campaign and all the banal stories journalists have come up with to fill space. It's too long, and too boring. Let's just vote next week and get it over with.

One of the members of my ladies' class was lamenting about how pricey and difficult it is to live in Nashville. And how that folks think that she and her family is strange just because they want to spend the weekend together hiking instead of going to see movies or Hannah Montana. Back to nature, I say--where we can hike, gather around a campfire (love that smell) and roast weiners and marshmallows and not spend much money enjoying it. This world that expects a different expensive thrill every night is just too stupid for my taste!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Disposable Society

After having been gone for 4 days, I have just finished plowing through all the mail and newspapers that accumulated.

Well over 3/4 of the mail was junk and disposable. I had the newspapers saved because of the crossword puzzles and the coupons. It was a task to look through it all. I began to imagine how many trees had been sawed down to provide the paper. Christmas already has begun with several catalogs every day. More things to buy and store.

It is true we are in a society that loves being surrounded by its possessions and obsessions. The lust for things equals the lust for sex and maybe even overpowers it. I was reading the parable Jesus told about the man who decided to build bigger barns.....the sentence "This very night your life will be demanded from you" lept from the page. Luke 12:20

And then I saw pictures of the devastation of the Malibu canyons--all that luxury gone in a moment of fire. In his discourse on not worrying about what to eat, drink or wear, Jesus says, ",,,the pagans run after these things..." I know some Christians who run too.

Lord, forgive me of being pagan in my gathering and thinking. I know that you provide all I ever need.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When the Parade passes by

Abilene was just wonderful. It was green; every little ditch had water in it; the trees were blooming and Blowing (I have never missed the wind).

Saw many people I love, ate places I loved to eat, and had good conversations with Ronnie and Darla, my most wonderful friends. What a gift reunion is. Think about Heaven!

It was fun to share the grandkids with everyone--they all performed nicely and really had a good time in our old stomping grounds. It would be exceptionally nice if they and the children of Brandon's roommates could be at ACU together in about 12-14 years.

Attending the Kojie breakfast is always astounding as I see the children of students I knew or taught perform as NUNUs.

As usual, the musical Aida was outstanding. ACU has such a treasure in Donna and Adam Hester--they are master teachers and directors. And Jeanette Lipford as vocal coach--there are just not any better.

Thankfully, the planes were on time, and did their predicted duty. We are all tired, but happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We are all looking forward to spending some time in Abilene this weekend. It is a lot of fun to go home and see those we love, to eat those foods we remember, and to walk the sidewalks where we had so much fun.

I am looking forward to seeing those "kids" from Brandon's graduation class of 1992. I often felt like some of them were mine. I know that life has dealt with most of them gently, and most certainly that they have had their share of life's woes. It will be interesting to see some of them after 15 years. I hope I can recognize them and they me. I have changed too.

The Kojie Homecoming Breakfast will be the first thing on the Homecoming agenda. I will sit with the sponsors and watch the NuNus make silly. I think it is going to be hot there--boo! I am taking fall clothes anyway.

A report when we return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Genius clusters

I am taking a course at Lipscomb in their Life Long Learning series about the writers who converged on Concord, MA in the 1800's: Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Fuller. The first class, taught by Dr. Dennis Loyd, was very good and confirmed what I had been reading in Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury.

What brought all of these writers and other lesser known ones to this little town of less than 3, 000 in that time? I had never heard the term "genius clusters" but that is certainly what it was. I guess you could also called the convergence of Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams,etc. during the Revolutionary years also a genius cluster. Look what they wrought!

Wow, don't we need a genius cluster today to free us from all the messes of contemporary America! And contemporary religion could use a cluster too. Where are they?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sixteen Years

I have been without my "Hon" for sixteen years today, and of course am missing him. One never gets used to such a loss, one only endures and goes on.

But he is not gone--I see his charisma in Brandon, his red hair and sweet heart in Maddie, his impish sense of humor in Ella, and the little boy inside him who never grew up in Sam. He still lives in my heart and memory, and besides that, we have a thousand pictures and videos to enjoy.

Thank you God for memory, good times, and the promise of being with you and the ones we love forever.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zoe Redux III

In his last address to the group, Randy H. said the church needs genuinely deep people who take God seriously. He continued, "the future of the church lies in the hands of deep people, not in the hands of brilliant leaders, wonderful worship leaders and scholarly teachers." Looking deep for him involves looking for God in all things. We must tell the world, "Come along, walk with us as we pay attention to God."

Later, Brian McLaren said that leadership should flow out of rest in God. He also asked what are the major preoccupations of the church today? and What would change if our churches were more concerned with global crises--like rediscovering our God-given role as caretakers of the planet.
He said that we have become religions of bad news rather than good news.

Gary Holloway in his workshop stressed the importance of Sabbath in our lives. He quoted someone who said that to be spiritually healthy, we must "ruthlessly eliminate busyness from our lives."

Later in another workshop, Randy Harris asked "What am I a credible witness for?" Are we credible witnesses for Christ? He listed these things for personal spiritual transformation:

1. Identification of places where God's grace has not caught hold, or which are inconsistent
2. Prayerful selection of those things you are ready to get rid of
3. Cooperation with the Holy Spirit over the long haul
4. Getting help from your community of faith

He said that simplicity was living your life with your goal of becoming a credible witness in the world.

It seems to me that a major emphasis on the spiritual disciplines would benefit us all. It has been 25 years since Richard Foster wrote the book on spiritual disciplines--how many times have we opened it in the last quarter of our lives? However, McLaren said that the disciplines are not ends in themselves. The purpose of discipleship is to out and serve. As we transform inwardly, we can bring about a global transformation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Zoe Redux II

The workshops for the leadership portion of the Zoe Conference were mostly on some of the spiritual disciplines: Silence, Solitude and Sabbath. Appropriate for those leaders pressed in this world of whirling schedules.

In her class on Silence, Jackie Halstead focused on contemplative, inaging prayer which seemed to be a new idea for some. Her term "the prodigal mind" in prayer (in which our minds go in and out of focus) was a good one.

Finding time to do any spiritual discipline is the big problem. Jackie suggested getting up early, taking 10 minutes of lunchtime with the door closed, and using examen for 20 minutes at night. She also said that we obsessive creatures who try to cram in all the spiritual activities we can into our day, "must find time to manage our compasssion." That seems to be a repetition of Randy's idea that we are not humbled to the idea that everything doesn't count on us.

She also stressed practicing mindfulness--being present in the moment--not looking over the heads of people who talk to us, etc.

There is no doubt about it. Silence is counter cultural. Seems Mr. Jobs comes up everyday with a new way to distribute noise. Some people even fear silence and the self-examination it brings.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zoe Redux

I have recovered from Zoe fatigue enough to now process some of the wonderful things God gave me and others last weekend.

In Thursday's afternoon worship, Randy Harris spoke on the Secret of the Easy Yoke..."my yoke is easy and my burden light..."

He said we must find new ways to "dance with God." We do that by first laying all our burdens on the table to see what it is that God wants us to pick up. Then leave all the others there. In learning to dance we must:

1. Find rhythm (life rhythm) Like Ecclesiastes said, there is a time to sleep, a time to pray, a time to play, a time to work, etc. When we land on one of those too long or too much, we get out of rhythm. One of the truths Randy spoke was that wherever we find ourselves--God didn't get us there, probably pride got us there. For example, if we can't take off work to play or pray, we are saying we can do it better than anyone else, even God. Our balance depends on our humility, I guess. Don't you know someone who has no concept of rest or Sabbath because everything depends on her/him?

2. Develop new habits (new moves). With practice and repetition, we learn how to pay attention to God.

3. Then we can dance with God, letting Him lead. No matter how unskillful we are at the dance, he, the good leader, can guide us to that place where our burdens are light and the yoke is easy.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The West Wing

In the past few days, I have spent about 24 hours viewing the last season of West Wing. I didn't get to see any of it because it was switched to Wednesday night.

Oh, how I miss that show--elegant writing, witty conversation, good acting, beautiful pictures of D. C., well-chosen music and Democrats--Wow!

Why did it have to leave so that viewers could watch "My Name is Earl", "Big Brother" and "Two Men and a Boy" ? I will never figure out the American viewing public. Talk about replacing glitz with trash!

Government never was easy on the show, and I guess those who viewed it got an inside look at why things sometimes don't work. And at how those we elect can quickly forget those who elected them to pursue personal gain both in prestige and money. I am really sorry that the government that was forged in our early days has come to the impass it has. I know it is not what was previewed in the Constitution, nor by the planners. I only hope some charismatic, progressive, selfless leader can somehow bring us out of our malaise.

And who is that? Wish I could vote for Jed Bartlett or Matt Santos.