Saturday, September 29, 2007


There's a nine year old girl on our street named Jenny. I think I've written about her and her brother Sebastian once or twice. I know Agent Wife has since she spends more time with them.

Anyway, today Jenny joined us on an outing to The Balloon Festival - a big outdoor ordeal held once a year in the fair mother city involving hot air balloons and what not.

Except this year it was too windy so the hot air balloons couldn't set up or fly.

So instead, we wandered around this carnival-like atmosphere run by a bunch of church people. It was kind of weird, but hey, so is the fair mother city. Most of the live music was christian oriented and all of the volunteers were wearing a t-shirt advertising the nearby church they were part of.

So we went home for dinner since they weren't launching the balloons. Jenny was starting to miss her mom too, so we headed back.

Then Jenny found out we were going to eat dinner. So she decided to stay with us and eat before seeing her mom for the first time all day.

Having Jenny over to eat is no big deal. She and her brother eat with us all the time. But what surprises me is the reason she wants to eat with us: healthy home-cooked food and fresh vegetables.

She actually wants to eat this. And praises how good it is all through dinner. Jenny is a very polite and thankful kid.

I would have thought that every kid on earth wanted only junk food. But I think Jenny, her brother, and most kids from the poverty culture eat junk food all the time. So they crave fresh vegetables...and will bend over backward just to get some.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


why did you build a bigger barn?
with brick and mortar? flesh and bone?
stepping on oppressed mill-stoned necks
leftover crumbs to orphaned aliens

You can’t take it with you.

*a song in progress. Copyright - Agent B (2007)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

testimony #035: king of odd jobs

Last week I requested to the CEO for him to provide for us this month as things were getting short again. I think we have like $50.

Notice: I did not panic. I'm getting better at this. Faith, I believe, is growing in me.

Anyway, a slew of odd jobs came up shortly after this request. And so far they are scheduling out well.

In addition to occasional work with Son and Dad Tree Service, Inc, I am fixing up some rental property with Jack-of-all-trades. And this morning, I helped my across the street neighbor Mr. Mackey install some cabinets at a customer's house, as Mr. Mackey operates a carpentry business.

And finally, my solo music act is officially resurrected from a five year self imposed exile. You locals may have already stumbled across my schtick at various establishments and outings. Unfortunately, few of these local music gigs pay well, if at all. That's a fact I've accepted from the fair mother city a long time ago. Cheap-ass town.

So anyway, this is not quite the "god gave me five dollars" testimony that is usually reported and loathed by others.

But the CEO is still providing daily bread. And for now, odd jobs.

...over and out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

evang-e-droppings #005

Another record collection: 55. I don’t know if we’re getting better at this or if the local tract passing crew is in overdrive. Or maybe the people receiving these tracts are throwing them on the ground more than ever.

This week there was a wider variety of tracts than usual, including five I’ve never seen before. One had the “myspace” logo on the front asking, “what happens to your myspace when you die?” Then the back says, “Who knows! What happens to YOU when you die?”

Leave it to christians to unimaginatively rip off pop culture and make poor, blunt segues into deep questions of life.

My favorite new tract states, “Your day in court” then lists some court rules. The first one is, “Do not litter. You can be fined”

Litter?!? You mean like...the three or four DOZEN tracts I find every weekend?!?

Agent wife and both of our kids joined me on this outing, which helped. Especially since I ran into a homeless man who wanted to talk to me for 30 minutes. Or just be listened to.

His name is Mack and he was giving friendly greetings to me from across the street. So I made my way over to him.

Mack started preaching and prophesying. The homeless almost always do.

I successfully fought off my middle class temptations of a) personal interjections b) mind wandering and c) looking for a way out. Somehow I managed to just sit and listen, making occasional head nods at agreeable points. Hanging with the homeless use to be old hat with me. But it’s been nearly five years since that was my daily lifestyle.

I miss it.

He knows Agent S and wife Leslie, formerly of the Downtown Baptist Beach Head and now residents of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It doesn’t surprise me since most of the poverty culture (from the last few years) knew them. You are indeed missed Agent S & family. Your imprint on the fair mother city is deep.

Friday, September 21, 2007

what preachers aren't preaching #003


Jesus never preached on nor promoted tithing. Yeah, you know...tithing: giving away 10% of one’s income or resources to a church.

Tithing is not a new testament teaching or concept. It’s an old testament teaching and practice.

So I’m told, tithing in the old testament did not stop at 10%. It was closer to 35% once temple taxes were included. But please don’t hold me to this as I don’t have scripture references or bible history knowledge to back this up. I heard this in a lesson a few times.

At best, according to evidence such as Matt 6:19-21, Matt 19:21, Matt 23:23, and Mark 12:41-44, Jesus preached on giving everything you got, not hanging on to wealth, and instead spending yourself on the poor, justice and mercy.

10% vs 100%.

Give some to a church vs give everything to those without, etc.

I do not entirely know what it means to “give all”. Give away my house? My only car? Raise my kids in the dirt or on the streets?

As reported here, I think my neighbors The Sanfords are on to something with this “give all” lifestyle. They don’t hang on to things for very long. If the Sanfords aren’t selling stuff to make ends meet, they are giving things to people who have none.

Preachers preach on tithing as a means of guilting the sheep into supporting the entire social club operation known as the church. And it’s easy to do:

1) 10% is a doable amount of money for everyone.

2) Tithing is mentioned in the bible (Malachi 3:6-12 for example), giving this act some sort of authoritative backing. So it’s an easy sell to the church members.

3) And most followers of Jesus in the US and other westernized nations are active participants in their culture’s teachings of hoarding and gathering wealth for one’s self. So tithing to a local church helps ease the guilt of abundance.

And before you know it, the money meant to be used for “the least of these” is now purchasing land, buildings, office equipment, toner ink, and support salaries of the ones who oversee this social club which operate publicly one to three times a week.

And maybe somewhere in all of that, some fun little programs and cute operations will be created to pitch the leftover crumbs to the least of these.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

pruning boy #011: pathetic and humbling

*As always, Agent B is pondering his existence and contemplating the meaning of life as viewed through a part-time employee of a small tree service company...

Admittedly, I have a real love/hate outlook on my job with Son and Dad Tree Service, Inc.

I LOVE - that it gives me much free time to do agent work (sometimes – TOO much free time). I HATE - that the pay barely covers my monthly mortgage.

I LOVE - the physical workout. I HATE that I feel beat for the rest of the evening.

I LOVE - that feeling of accomplishing a large job that seems impossible up front. And I LOVE the idea that in reality, I am a professional lumberjack, all manly and so-forth.

But I HATE - that The Son, The Dad, and I are the absolutely most inefficient work crew on the freaking planet. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

Seriously. I mean it’s two old men and me. Guess who takes on the majority of the work load?

The Son, proud owner and proprietor of Son and Dad Tree Service, Inc., has bad knees and acts like a cripple sometimes. And we’re supposed to take trees down for crying out loud. So he spends most of his time barking out commands at me - and talking on his phone.

The Dad, nearly 90-years old and working “for something to do”, is more of a company mascot than a real worker. He started this gig almost 50 years ago and many of our longtime customers know him well. The Dad can’t do much in the labor department, but I respect The Son’s decision to have him work since it gives him something to look forward to everyday. But realistically, The Dad slows us down big time. So it goes.

Once we were hired to take down two huge pine trees. But one of them was too risky for us with our lack of cranes and etc. as it was next to a house. So The Son subcontracted that tree to another local tree service company that had the tree down in like 20 minutes. I was jealous. They sent out these two young guys with two powered cranes and pro gear, wearing facial shields and etc.

My only eye protection is my sunglasses. My boss is too cheap to supply face shields.

I like my job OK. I’m not ashamed to be in my upper 30's with a college degree and working with chainsaws for small pay.

But we are the most pathetically embarrassing work team. Ever.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

blog spotlight

Agent Wife discovered Sans Houses. I highly recommend it.

Brings back waaaaaay too many memories of the old izzy ministry Thursday night sleepovers and The Table.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Obi-Wan mission part II

Since Part I of this mission went so well (and fast) we took a stab at Part II today.

Part II is a much larger medical debt with a much larger organization: $4600 is owed to a local hospital.

I stopped by the hospital today and spoke with someone in their resource department. They do indeed have some sort of hardship-type program that Obi-Wan can apply for.

I brought the applications back to Obi-Wan's, we filled them out, and I later returned them to the person I met with earlier. Our end is now done.

I'm still blown away that his debt at the rehab joint was a) 100% eliminated and b) we were notified about it within 24 hours. I'm hoping for the full amount of this hospital debt to be eliminated as well. But any discounted amount will gladly be received.

And I don't expect a 24 hour notice as the hospital rep told me that we'd be notified by mail. That's fine.

If this full amount goes through then Obi-Wan will be a debt-free man. All prayers and requests to the CEO in Obi-Wan's behalf are appreciated. Thank you.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

evang-e-droppings #004

Here’s yet another ho-hum Evang-e-Dropping Eradication report. I suppose this weekend’s trash and tract pick up wasn’t as mundane since we set a new record: 42 tracts. Agent Offspring #1 and I are getting better at this every week. We know where to look now. And we still didn’t go into all the areas to look as AO1 got tired.

So far, the average pickup per weekend is around 30 to 35. That means every weekend about that much litter is spewed on the ground around nightclubs and so forth as generated by evangelical groups. I don’t know what to make of that.

This week, the wacky “DZHENOU” was the tract of choice by our local tract passing crew. Last week, it the unpopular demon head one (thanks for living your life for me). I was happy to help get those off the streets.

The collection is still growing at my house. We’ll see what happens with them later.

Noteworthy: Out on the operation, AO1 spotted a homeless-looking guy down the block. This guy was pulling a full shopping cart with a rope. And no, it was not Momo. I don’t know who this guy was.

AO1 said, “Hey look daddy, there’s one of your friends”.

I don’t know what to make of that yet. I think that was a real high compliment in the direction of how we’re raising our kids. He’s beginning to recognize that the poor are our friends, I guess.

Friday, September 14, 2007

what preachers aren't preaching #002

Jesus tells us (Matt. 6:19-21) not to "store up treasures on earth". Some translations actually use the word "wealth" instead of treasure.

What does this mean?

Especially in light of our 401Ks, retirement plans, stuff in our houses, and so forth...

Is it possible that we really should not hang on to this stuff? Is this the real meaning of the words of christ, who we claim to follow?

*Credit on this subject belongs to the jack-of-all-trades, as he posed this question to me recently.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

testimony #034: obi-wan mission update

I was hanging out at Obi-Wan's this afternoon.

At approximately 4:01pm CST his phone rang. As common practice, I answer it when I'm over there since it takes about 29 rings for him to get it himself.

It was a woman from the rehab joint I visited yesterday. She wanted to speak to Obi-Wan. I gave him the phone.

" that by me again", he says, tear rolling down his cheek.

They are forgiving the entire debt. He no longer owes them $2800.

They told me we would hear back within a week - a short waiting period I thought. They called us within 24 hours.

Thank you CEO.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Obi-Wan mission: 9/07

For the record: Obi-Wan is not a project or a trophy.

For the record: Obi-Wan is a mentor, friend, and grandfather to my kids.

Because of his place in life (age, poor health, lack of family, various disabilities, etc) and because of my availability in life, sometimes I get to help him do things that would be impossible for him to do or figure out alone.

Recently, we stumbled into something that could become a massive debt relief and proverbial godsend.

Due to all of Obi-Wan’s hospital stays from Feb 2006 to May 2007, he has racked up a moderate debt, especially for a guy who lives solely off a monthly social security alone.

One of his debts is from a local rehab outfit that hooked him up with his beloved “pegleg”. After Obi-Wan’s veteran’s benefits and so forth, the debt was still around $2800.

There ain’t no way in hell he could pay that off any time soon with his SS income.

So he gets the brilliant idea to call them and ask for some kind of payment plan. I thought that was a waste of a phone call since there’s no interest with medical debt and usually you just pay whatever amount you want monthly. So why ask for a pay plan? But he’s an old man. And you just don’t get an old man to change his mind.

So after the call, this rehab joint sends us an instruction page for some kind of application for hardship. IE: reduced or eliminated debt. Sounds nice. But the hoops to jump through looked fairly high and numerous, but not impossible.

So yesterday I call the person in charge of this to ask some questions.

Good news: the hoops weren’t nearly as high or as numerous as the letter stated.

Better news: for an elderly guy on fixed SS income, it’s almost guaranteed that their “committee” will vote for Obi-Wan to receive some kind of break on this debt.

I met with this person today and turned in the required paper work and etc. We should find out the committee’s decision within a week.

If I were the prayer soliciting kind of guy, I would ask all to pray that the CEO might soften the hearts of this committee and the whole $2800 be forgiven.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I just don't get it anymore #149

Generally, I avoid news media outlets. I’ve long grown tired of what they try to tell me is important. Ignorance can be bliss sometimes.

But I log in to the local newspaper online once a day just to make sure half of the city didn’t blow up and I missed it. Also, as morbid as it sounds, I read the obituaries. The poverty culture lives shorter lives than the wealthier cultures. You’d be surprised how many people I know die each year.

So I stumbled across this story the other day.

Damn. I don’t get it anymore.

$6 million bucks on what? God’s front porch?!?

Not that I’m a member of this social club nor should I care what they do with their abundance.

God’s front porch? Sounds like another euphemism for “we want a new building”.

Never mind that they already had (what I would consider) God’s front porch with a dilapidated building they owned across town that was inhabited by Pastor Hawking and his church two years ago. Read about that ridiculousness here.

OK, to avoid bagging on this mega-church too much...they DID give some former neighbors of mine a minivan when this family of six went car-less. Thank you CEO.

But $6 million bucks??

Brick and morter?!?

Dust of the earth?

I don’t know anything anymore.

I can see it now - The Lost Parables of Christ: “The kingdom of god is like...a multi million dollar property built in a field, where the whole damn town sold everything they had and came in droves to visit this physical place...

That’s it. I quit.

(slaps agent credentials on the CEO's desk)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

cha-ching update

Thought I should report on the rest of the story.

Recap: Manuel and The Tiger were innocent victims of a huge wreck in White Utopia. They received minor injuries and lost their means of earning a living (totaled their crappy pickup and flatbed trailer).

One week and several insurance checks later, Manuel has replaced his crappy truck with three crappy trucks. And a new flatbed trailer.

I love it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

whyman read

My fair acquaintance and fellow agent on the field Phil Wyman of Salem, Massachusetts recently wrote "I Am What's Wrong With the Church" for some online publications. Download the 3rd article (pdf file). It's a great read and excellent window into the whyman's heart, which is particularly why I am so attracted to the agent work in Salem.

pruning boy #010: orkkin man returns

In the ever evolving series of “pruning boy”, Agent B tries to find meaning and purpose in his toils at "Son and Dad Tree Service, Inc." – a part-time employment gig, confirmed by the CEO of the universe in a dream of Agent B’s last February...

On the pruning boy gig, there are basically three types of manual labor jobs we perform: tree work (trimming, chopping, removal, etc), lawn care (mowing, etc), and tree spraying (mostly pecan tree spraying four times a year along with fertilizing twice a year).

My favorite is tree work. The cons are: it’s a short job (two hours average), very strenuous, and extremely dangerous. The pros: it’s very dangerous. I need this element of risk in my life to keep me going. Something about having my ass half way up a tree with a loud chainsaw or standing on a steep slippery two-story metal roof dodging the oil drips from my saw is, I don’t know, sexy? Or it reminds me of my mortality.

The lawn care part is what it is. No element of surprise or danger. Actually, it’s pretty boring. But this is when I get some of my best thinking time in. And sometimes I can hear the CEO when my brain is on auto-pilot while pushing these cool high dollar honda mowers. This is usually where I come up with most of these agent reports.

And then there’s tree spraying. Or pruning boy: the orkkin man edition. I don’t care for this part of the gig. There’s chemicals to deal with. And it’s gay. And not gay as in boys loving boys. Gay as in, it’s gay-ass. The pros are that we only do this work six times a year (including the fertilizing). And usually these are two or three day stints. And it’s guaranteed 8 to 11 hour days. We work from sun up to almost sun down and straight through lunch. We eat our sandwiches driving from house to house. So, I usually get a modest check the month we spray.

This is my third orkkin man gig since working this job for the last six months. And each time, I get mildly depressive and contemplative while doing this. It’s slow. It’s very easy work. And I get to see the ugly side of the wealthy.

For example, I am amazed at how some people in the upper middle class live like pigs. I mean, they have a very nice house, the front looks all clean and trim. Nice cars. But the back looks like freaking Sanford and son. Like, they have so much shit, they don’t know where to put it except all over the damn yard and alley. Maybe I’m too judgmental, but I’m thinking if you can afford to have FOUR lawn mowers sitting around your yard then, I don’t know, GIVE three away or something. Sheesh.

Also, I get a huge kick out of how some of these wealthy people receive me when I come to their door with the bill. My boss calls all 100 plus customers a week before we spray. So they know we’re coming. But sometimes, the spouse of a customer is unaware of our arriving. And they’re pissed as hell. Those are the ones my boss sends me to deal with (how nice).

Still, I’m convinced this job was a directive of the CEO. It’s very humbling. Perhaps I needed that.

God help me. Open up a new door for me, here in the desert...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

what preachers aren't preaching #001

*This is a new semi-ongoing series where the agent b files attempts to expose the fraud and conspiracy of what preachers, pastors, and/or all other paid clergy are not telling us sheep. Please feel free to comment, critique, and suggest other conspiracies that our preachers hide from the flock.

In light of christ’s words, “the last shall be first”...

How come we followers of christ are not taught to be last?

In our western culture where success drives the ambition to all that is valued: wealth, education, social status, SECURITY, etc...

Why are these westernized values held in high esteem within the church culture? And thus, why are we taught to be FIRST and not LAST?

And, as the jack-of-all-trades brought up a couple of months ago, how does all this fit with the words in Matthew 23:8-12?

As jesus followers, if we are not to run after being FIRST, why does the christian culture promote it through its actions?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

bad reputation

So what does Jesus mean by "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets" - (Luke 6:26)?

Why do we strive to be well liked?

In terms of truth, realness, the gospel, whatever...why do we wish to say things that make people like us?

And I particularly mean "people" as in other followers of Jesus (ie: the church), not "the world".

This gospel is opposite of most everything our culture strives for: Be last, not first. Give of all you have. Love those who hate you. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile.

Why don't preachers preach this?

I suppose 'saying it like it is' got one too many prophets killed.

But with eternal life in mind, fearing death shouldn't be too much concern...