Monday, October 27, 2008

High School Musical 3

Applying the word "nostalgic" to a contemporary movie is like the kiss of death to the movie. Many movie critics are calling the HSM series nostalgic. Yet #3 made 42 million dollars this weekend and is destined to make more money than most of the Disney movies. So much for the "kiss of death" and the poor earnings of "G" rated movies. More, more, I say.

Brandon, Sam, Ella, and I went to the opening on Friday night in Cool Springs. Maddie was also there as part of birthday party celebration for Sydney Williamson. The movie was crawling with 7-9 year old girls. And, by the way, with much older (college age) girls who had Zac Ephron's picture on their T-shirts. I would have worn one, but I don't have one. ( I do think he is one of handsomest of the new crop of young men starring today--those Paul Newman eyes!)
At any rate, the night was like a happening--much clapping, oooh's and aaah's, and lots of joyful movement as the dance numbers progressed. (Sam was showing his moves throughout.)

Because the budget for this one was much bigger than those of the first two, the production numbers were huge and quite well-done, I thought. After watching "Troy" dance, there was no doubt why he has been chosen to star in the coming remake of Footloose. As most critics have noted, the story is slight, but very appealing. Some have said these shows are "what everyone wishes high school could have been."

Absolutely clean in dialogue, clinches, and dances, this movie is a first-rate family film. Of course, one has to get to used to the idea that any character can break out in song at any moment. As a devotee of movie musicals from my teens, it did not bother me. I'll have to admit I am sorry to see these stars go--they are all off to college or other theatrical efforts. I shall miss them and their happy jaunts through high school life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Early Voting

Early voting is a blessing for folks like me who cannot stand in line very long. At the Edmondson Library, I got it and out in less than 15 minutes.

Another blessing of early voting is that you get it over with early and don't have to stew until Nov. 4. If you did not see Colin Powell's interview by Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press concerning his endorsement of Obama, go to Phil Wilson's blog--about two days ago he carried the transcript. I like Powell and admire him ( he did lose a little luster in the Iraq War debacle). His measured, reasoned, thoughtful statements why he. a Republican, will be voting for Obama struck a chord with me. He put into words all the ideas that had been floating around in my head for months.

As one who grew up in the "yellow dog Democrat" era in Texas, I have voted Republican twice--both for Bush--and look where that got me. He was a good governor (although he beat my vote for Ann Richards). I do think he has gotten abysmally bad counsel these eight years and will probably go down as one of our least effective presidents. I personally think he is probably a nice man who personifies the "way over your head" syndrome. I know he will be very glad to be rid of all the ridicule (which I think is so unAmerican and unChristian), the negative press, and the load of the presidency. Who would want that anyway????
Perhaps Obama and McCain are both masochists in desiring the office. Whoever wins, I will wish him Godspeed and good
advisors. Obama has already named some of those from whom he will seek advice. As far as I know, McCain has not.

At any rate, I can hardly wait until November 4th!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blessing Gracie Rae

Gracie's shower was a blessing to her and to those attended yesterday. I love Otter's tradition of a short devo and blessing before diving into the food and gifts. It is a very special time for the mom and dad. I am also glad that dads can attend baby showers now--Kevin got the full benefit of the love that flowed in the room.

Ella, Sam and Maddie were good helpers yesterday, arranging the gifts and then "helping" Kiki pull the paper off the surprises. It was good for them to see and hear the blessings too.

As Gracie enters the world surrounded with love, I couldn't help but think about all those babies born yesterday who did not have that foundation--who entered poverty and sadness in a way Gracie will never know. And I thought of these lines by Marion Wright Edelman:

"Weary child of the night and of the streets,
afraid and abused and in need of safe haven and home
to rest and to nest.
God is love, and you are God's beloved.

Child of poverty unburdened by the chains of things
and greed that imprison the have-to-muches,
God came in your disguise to save us all.
God is love and you are God's beloved."

And I pray for them, as I pray for Gracie Rae and Maddie, Ella, and Sam in the words of Edelman:

O, God, help them to feel love and appreciation for all your gifts of life.
Grant each of them a passion for peace and for justice.
Give them kindness for those who are weak and needy and sad and afraid.
Grant them courage to stand up for right and to struggle against wrong.
Help our children to sing their own songs
and to hear and join in the songs of others...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reaching the next generation

Scot McKnight spoke at the Zoe Conference earlier this month about this new generation (20's and 30's) of "ironic believers". He said among other things:

1. They do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
2. They do not frame the gospel the way we frame it--does the gospel speak to AIDS, Darfur, etc. For them going to heaven is not enough
3. Some of us believe that if science and the Bible conflict, throw out science. They believe throw out the Bible--make it myth.
4. They have been badly burned by the lack of integrity of Christians, and really question authority.
5. Beause of pluralism and multiculturalism, there is an increasing acceptance of other religions--they are not interested in how many missionaries we send out and how many baptisms we have. (Side note: our ironic faith--we
think we have truth, yet we do not promolgate it.)
6. Increasing suspicion of our OT understanding of God.
7. On the treatiment of homosexuality--why ostracize this group and not the greedy?
8. They suspect our use of language--all language has limitations.
9. They question the credibility of the church.

What we do? He said "Young people will believe our faith if they can see it alive. They are never persuaded by intellectual apologetics."

We must:
1. Try to bring some credibility to our lives in Christ.
2. Look to God and be truly different--especially about money and things. He cited Shane Claiborne and those like him who are bringing Christ to that culture--he "embodies the message that what we own doesn't matter, the kingdom is what matters."
3. Look to God and seek wisdom. He asked the same question Rhonda Lowry asked our women recently, "Where are the wise?"
4. Be better at relationships--God is relational. Making rules is easier, but relationships are harder and slower.

That's a lot to digest, but I thought it was a good take on post-modernism.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Choices, Choices

I went to the dentist this week. As always at the end of the session,I was offered goodies to take home:
toothbrush--yellow, blue, orange?
toothbrush head--large, small; soft, very soft?
floss--mint, cinnamon, apple?

I remember, growing up in a small town with one large grocery story--Piggly Wiggly--when the choices were:
Colgate or Crest (no whiteners, flavors, cavity fighters, etc.)
toothbrush--white with either a hard or soft head
floss--only one kind with no flavor.

Times have changed and complicated our lives. Simplicity is no longer viable when hundreds of choices are available with every product. Standing before any aisle in Publix or Kroger is daunting. This story concerns an ob-gyn who volunteers each summer in Nigeria delivering babies and treating patients who walk days to get to her. She says each time she returns home, "I don't go into supermarkets for a week or two after I get back. I made that mistake the first time, and when I got to the cereal aisle, I looked at all those shelves full of boxes, and I started to cry. I had to leave the store."

Greed, gluttony, wants, needs, necessities, options, alternatives plague us each day. And we become what we decide. Perhaps the story of the man who wanted to build bigger barns would be appropriate here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff and more Stuff

I got eleven catalogs in the mail yesterday--argh! I am learning to throw most of them away without looking inside--no temptation that way. I guess the season of buying and spending is upon us.

Considering what Rhonda Lowry tried to teach us about simplicity this week, I shall be trying very hard not to add to to my stuff. Simplicity is not only an action, she said. It is an attitude of the heart--ant that is why is so hard.....

Our community recently had a garage sale, and I had Sheryl come and get down some stuff from the top shelf in my closet which I cannot reach to add to it. It was stuff I had not only not used in the last four years, but I had really forgotten.
So it was not very hard to get rid of.

If I write about simplicity some the next few days, forgive me--I'm just trying to change that attitude. Now I have to go to a used book sale (I am taking more to donate than I will buy--these are just those mystery novels I read at night, so no trouble giving them away--don't ask me to give away the book I recently bought, however.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

This is One of Those Days

This is one of those days one does not forget. Seventeen years ago late in the night, I became a widow as my husband Sam Thomas died of prostate cancer at Hendrick Hospital in Abilene.
It had been a long day--many visitors lining the halls and coming into the room, Sam slipping farther and farther from us, funny Sam Thomas stories filling the room. As we all took turns holding his hand, students from ACU were praying fervently down the hall. He took his last breath a little after midnight, but we stayed for a while and just gazed at him--seeing the lines of pain diminish and visualizing him entering heaven.

Of course, this is and always will be a sad day; but, it is one that has been assuaged by the passage of time. We still miss him--almost everyday I wish he could have known his grandchildren and Sheryl. He would have been such an indulgent grandfather and so fun for Maddie, Ella and Sam to play with because he never really grew up. He died with that little-boy puckish spirit still intact.

God was so good to have given him to us as a model and guide in Christian living and in having the joy of life present every day. Thank you God for the 30 years we had together and for the son you gave us to enjoy and love.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Church--ever restoring and reforming

Just finished a course on the documents of the Stone-Campbell Movement at Lipscomb. It is totally amazing how many of the current practices of my fellowship date back to those early writings and the thoughts of Alexander Campbell and Thomas Campbell. And how many we no longer follow because those writings were written for their time, and we must live in ours. For example, unpaid ministers....neither Campbell was fond of paying men and women to preach the gospel. Nor was A. Campbell fond of attaching music to the words of hymns. He preferred, and indeed did in his hymnals, print only the words to be sung to popular tunes of the day. He believed that the music and wrestling with harmony and rhythm might detract from the words.

Both believed in the unity of the church above all else, and actually believed that it could happen, if all would follow the Scripture. Trouble is, there were and are different interpretations of the Scripture which led to and lead to today many divisions.

I wonder what contemporary writings will those church history students of the future read to see how things developed? Is there anything being written which will change the course of our history as a fellowship????

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Media Saturation

Well, the debate last night proved that some people do not translate on TV. Just as Nixon did in the past with the medium, McCain probably lost the election last night--he was nervous, awkward, abrupt, sometimes tongue-tied, and seemed not to know where the camera was. Besides going over his time often! He has a warm, emotive voice--but seeing him just gave me the creeps. He seemed to have no confidence at all, even though he had begged for the format used last night. (and his use of "that one" was disheartening). My take on it, as a Senior Citizen, is that he simply forgot Obama's name, as we are prone to do in the heat of battle. It was not meant as racist, nor was it dismissive, as the press would have you think. Just wish the press would show a little common sense and shut up about some things.

While Obama seemed calm, dignified, confident and straightforward, McCain was peevish, priggish and (my word) "slumpy." Too bad--it was his time to show that he had plans for the future--real plans apart from the Bush Adm.... I predict he will drop even farther in the polls.

Did you notice how nice the stage looked last night and how beautifully the Curb Center and the bell tower were draped? Probably not, but Brandon's company did all that--and it looked really good. (See Brandon's blog for pictures). Musick and Nashville got a lot of press this week--so glad.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hear, O Israel

In Nehemiah 8:2, the scribe Ezra brings out the Book of the Law before the assembly made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He reads it aloud from daybreak until noon and everyone present listens attentively.
Indeed, many of them weep as they listen to the words of the Law (8:9).

Saturday afternoon at the Zoe Conference, attendees listened to Revelation as led by Mike Cope, Randy Harris and Larry Mudd. The Zoe Group interspersed hymns among the reading and emoting. It was an unusual and moving experience. How often do we listen to long readings of the Bible?

It struck me later that this was the way the early Christians heard the Word. Paul's letters were read to the churches. The Torah was read in the synagogue and everyone listened. Before the printing press, the Word was read by priests to the congregation, because very few laity could read, even if they had a Bible. Then along came Gutenberg, Wycliffe and Martin Luther.

It is almost mind-boggling to think about the development of the printed Word we have today. Ten years ago, Brandon gave me a book A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel in which a chapter called Beginnings details the training and history of scribes. In the Beginning, The Story of The King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation , a Language and a Culture by Alister McGrath is also fascinating as it details how dangerous it was to translate the Bible into a common tongue. Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book looks at translations in a chapter called "God's Secretaries". All very interesting.

But suppose you had never heard the Word, never read a commentary, never read a translation--what would it be like?
What pictures would you conjure up as the "raw" word was read? What new understandings and flashes of insight would come to you?

It is hard for us in our print saturated society to even imagine. But I got a taste of it on Saturday and enjoyed it. Thanks, Mike, Randy and Larry.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Small Things

I didn't want to go Monday night.

I was tired and had company coming which meant cleaning, washing, and cooking.

Otter's Latter Day Saints were serving dinner at the Hospital Hospitality House near the Centennial and Baptist hospitals. HHH is an inexpensive facility where people who have long-term patients in the hospitals can stay--It is nice, clean, secure lodging at $20 per night with arrangements for those who can not afford to pay. Truly a gift from God for those who need it.

So, I pushed myself and went taking my Pumpkin Dessert.

Upon arriving, those already there exclaimed to me: "there is a young couple outside who are thinking about moving to Abilene." I was their appointed dinner partner. Volunteers like us supply food, a listening ear and compassion.

The couple, in their early 30's, had deep lines of exhaustion in their faces. Their new son
(2 1/2 weeks old) had been born with breathing and eating problems. The parents were walking across the parking lot every three hours to feed him. Their other 4 children were being cared for by friends and relatives.

From McMinnville, the couple seemed not only needy physically and emotionally, but also financially. When I asked what Otter could do for them, their only requests were prayers and money for gas to get home. I gave them Doug Sander's name and told them where Otter was.

Tuesday morning as I left Ladies' class, they were coming into the church. Doug later e-mailed that we assisted them with gas money. Mission accomplished.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that they had plans to move to Abilene in January to begin college degrees at ACU in computer science and agribusiness. Needing a new beginning and having relatives who had attended ACU, they thought Abilene was a good choice. I don't think they know yet how expensive a proposition that is.

I couldn't help but think them somewhat naive, although ambitious. How can a family of seven which doesn't have 2 pennies to rub together make it at ACU?

But then I had to remember a girl from a poor family in Hamlin, Texas who scrambled for scholarships, worked a year after high school graduation and worked 5 hours every day all through school at ACU who made it. Not only did I make it with a BA, but also a Masters and two additional certfications. God blesses the naively ambitious.

I was very glad I obeyed the nudge in my mind from the Spirit to go and serve.

They were small things--the cake, the time and the question, "what can we do for you?".

Mother Teresa said that we don't have to do great things, only "small things with great love."

I haven't told this story to toot my own horn by any means--just a little reminder that small things can often turn out to be great things when blessed by God.