Monday, April 28, 2014

Water Life, or Sarah Palin is an Idiot

Haven't written "so and so is an idiot" post in a long, long time. 

That's not because there's been a lack of idiocy. Lord knows, we're neck deep in it.

Not since Glen Beck suggested that any Church that preaches "social gospel," should be avoided because such churches don't reflect Christianity have I written one.

Until now.

Admittedly, I've never been a fan of the former Governor of Alaska. Not a political fan. Not a fan of the world view. Not a fan of really much anything she purports.

And I don't have to be. That's part of freedom, right? I don't have to be a fan any more than she has to be of mine (although she surely doesn't know what she's missing, right? ;) 

But when you come wading into the language of my world, and so violently pervert the language of new life in the Realm of God through Jesus by equating it with tortur.....oops, sorry "enhanced interrogation techniques," I'm done.  

In her recent speech to the NRA she's quoted as saying:

"Come on. Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who'd obviously have information on plots, to carry out Jihad. Oh, but you can't offend them, can't make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen," she said. "Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we'd baptize terrorists."

Sarah Palin, you're an idiot. And here's the thing - I'm not convinced you even believe half of what you say. Like a carnival barker who seeks to stir the crowd into a frenzy, you throw one liners out like chum for the sharks and the feeding frenzy that ensues taps into the lesser angels of our natures. Chum the waters, collect a check...and move on down the road.

As one who lives under the waters of my baptism and the vows taken, vows I only days ago spoke to my youngest son as he claimed faith for himself, I'm reminded of the ancient questions asked of all who come before the font -

“Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?”

“Do you accept the freedom and power that God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”

And I'm reminded of something I often preach and today need to live as I think about Mrs. Palin and her quote:

Jesus doesn't need us to defend him. Jesus is just fine. He just needs us to live as if our lives in Him makes any difference.

Today I'm challenged and convicted by that.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I knew I'd  have to figure it out one day…what I'd be called by my grandchildren. 

As it is with anything and everything that lives in the mist of “one day,” when the day comes it seems to catch us by surprise. 

My household had one helluva Holy Week. 

Going into it I was filled with the usual sense of finality that comes with any of us who itinerate and know that “last things” are on the horizon. I knew this was my last Holy Week at Covenant. So there's the appropriate amount of grief in leaving folks I've loved and served. But there's also the season of the “valedictory” address—the last things that one wants to be sure to impart knowing that our life together is changing.   How one takes leave from community is as significant (and possibly more so) than how one comes to be a part of it in the first place. 

So since news of my appointment back to St. John’s has come to light, my last words have been germinating…preoccupying me, really…not so much as to distract from the sanctity that Holy Week merits, but I felt a gravity to it, that, when coupled with the painful anniversary this week brings my family, the whole week felt “heavy” already. 

I guess the first clue that this week was going to be a bit different was when I got home from church Monday night. It was about 8:30 p.m.  Nightly routine. Changed. Got comfy, came into the den to find my oldest and girlfriend of almost 5 years in the den. 

“Kinda late for them to drop by,” I thought. 
That plus the deer in headlights look communicated much before mouths began to speak. 

They shared news of a “surprise,” that really wasn't, neither to them or us. Maybe there was surprise in the “oh, shit….this really happened” sorta way. I get that. Shoot, I've said that. 

I was taken with how both of them were, while shaken at reality getting, well, “real,” that there was a peace brought by the conviction that this moment was in front of them and that they’re going to meet it together. 

Plans to be married have been in the conversation for some time. This new reality prompted the need to actualize those, too. 

Lest anyone wonder how I did…I was calm. They’re adults. My job is to counsel and advise, not direct. The only mandate I gave was that neither was quitting school. Figure out how to manage it, and keep going. 

And, Laura said how awful the prenatal vitamins were, and I said, “Doesn’t matter, take them anyway.”  That’s my grandchild we’re talking about, right?

That was Monday. 

By Easter Sunday, with house full of family in town to celebrate Jack’s confirmation, came the actual engagement. When’s the wedding?  The Friday before my first Sunday at St. John’s.   

Of course it is. 

And, Christopher bought the truck of his dreams….because we loaned him the money to do it and he’s paying us back though his new start up business with his pal Austin cutting yards.  Holler if you need lawn service….please, I'm begging you. Seriously. :)

Sounds brilliant. I think I've lost my ever loving mind.   

But what of the matter at hand?  What to be called?  Truth is, I'll be whatever the child decides to call me. My father is Grandaddy, as was my grandfather.   I have no aversion to that in the slightest, but it's a well used name in our family now. 

My father in-law is Papa, and that suits him quite well. 

My son, who's soon to be a father himself, calls me Daddy, still, and I suspect always. 

So, GDaddy makes a lot of sense to me. I've heard it used before by people I love, and it always seemed to ring true to me. 

So I think that's where I'm headed with this. 

Funny thing about life’s transitions, however they come, whether of your choosing or not. In each instance there's a new name, label or designation associated with it.   Sometimes those names are embraced. Sometimes they are placed on you. Sometimes we live our lives trying to outrun or undo those names because of pain associated with them. 

For me, there's a host of names I carry. And there are many more I'm called that I don’t know, and that's probably for the best. It just so happened that two such names I knew I would have “one day” came much more sharply into focus in the compressed time of a few days. 

I'm very OK with this. But more than any name I bear, I pray I live in a way that does honor to it. Hmm, sounds biblical, doesn't it?  Lil bit?

Thursday, April 17, 2014


We mark the passage of time in years...that become decades...scores.
It's just what we do, we mark the time...about many things.

We mark the time until things happen.
We mark the time since things happened.

Today is the 10th year I've marked this day.

It's not that I've marked it by writing something. 
I mark this day because this day has marked me, has marked my family.
Like a healed broken bone that aches before a dramatic change in the weather, this day makes a healed broken heart ache.

The scars where once there was an open wound are a bit more sensitive to the touch on days like today.  Anytime you see a scar, you know there's a story--be it falling off your bike, to surviving an accident, to wrestling with the Divine through the night, to being nailed to a cross--our scars say something. 

We all lost much 10 years ago when Jimmy died.
And whatever peace I found since then, I'll never come to peace with a 34 year old going to sleep and not waking up.  That shit sucks.  And it always will (by the way, my blog, you don't my language, move on).

I'm a different man than I was then.  10 years ago I was a few months from being 40 and living in the existential angst of that milestone, consumed with showing outwardly that I belonged while inwardly uncertain what that meant immersed in hiding me for fear of rejection. 

Now a few months from 50...truthfully, I've never been more content with what I don't know.  I'm comfortable living the journey of "I don't know, but let's see what we can discover, together."

I'm healthier than I've been since I was 25, physically.
I'm healthier than I've been spiritually, ever.

Over the years to come I'll continue to mark the time of this day.  I'll always lament a relationship that was never allowed to season....for words never spoken that should have been.

As it happens, the family will be gathering this weekend. It's Easter.  It's also Confirmation day.  My youngest, Jack, is being confirmed.  We'll all be together to mark a right of passage for another of the family...including another one we're just hearing about this week (stay tuned).

And when together, something will be said, a look or a facial expression seen, and someone will say, "you know who that looks like, sounds like?"  
It's been a decade.  Gosh, that's a long time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Few Things on the Reset

Long time, no see....

May deal with the "why's" later, but for now, let's hit it.

TIGERS - "never think more of yourself, that you ought," comes to mind.  We did ok.  Great?  No. Satisfied?  Nope.  Can we do more than what we're doing now?  Not sure.  Many will speak to Josh's coaching style.  A little less AAU play and a lot more "grit and grind" from our favorite NBA team would be welcomed.  How patient can "Tiger Nation" (which drives me nuts...if we are a nation, we're the Luxembourg of sports nations) be watching Josh grow into the role of coach...which is to beg the question "Is he growing into that role?"  I have my doubts.  Anybody who wants to "hug a win" gives me pause.  His pre-game speech to the troops aired on television was underwhelming to say the least.  On the plus side, we swept Louisville!  But UConn and Cincy?  Got schooled by them.

LATE NIGHT - Watching The Tonight Show on purpose for the first time in 22 years.  I like Jimmy, but the formula is going to wear thin a few months in.  Sometimes he's a little cute by half.  Playing games is fine. Starring in your own skits and doing quite well is good.   What makes the great ones great is knowing that when someone is talking, the host is listening.  Jimmy's got some growing to do there.

And then, there's Dave. There's something to be said about leaving in your timing especially when you're doing something that defines your professional career.  Jay didn't get to do that, either time. He announced it in about as unassuming a way as you'd expect a Midwesterner would.  Much, much, much about Dave on this blog...easy to find.  Enjoy!  Very pleased with Stephen Colbert pick.  I think it will transition very well. I'll deal with farewells for him next year.

TRANSITIONS - Change always seems to come at once for me.  It's the season for that again.  Another kid graduating from high a year away from finishing college...and then there's Jack, who'll be 13 this August.  Thirteen years ago at the age of 36, I was appointed to serve in midtown Memphis, at St. John's.  Jack was born August of our moving there in June.  And this June, at the age of 49, just weeks before turning 50, I take back up the yoke of pastoral leadership at that most special place.  There will much more on that in coming weeks, what it means, what it could mean.  At this time of my life, maybe it's only now that I'm fully ready.'s not much, but it's a first for 2014.