Friday, December 28, 2007

will the CEO speaketh

As a lowly field agent, I am probably being too demanding of the CEO of the universe to give me a reflective word for the coming year. I'm sure he'll damn well talk to me when he feels like it.

In the last two weeks I've spent many moments communicating with headquarters, forging a moderate-sized trench around their three acre property. But I hear nothing. That is, nothing but the thoughts of a desire I've been pondering for almost two years. Maybe more on that in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, on a semi-related note, I've spent much time communicating to headquarters while manhandling a small hand-held jackhammer powered by air compression. It's funny how isolated one feels with goggles and hearing protection on, working on busting up a concrete area near a drain pipe in some basement.

My father-in-law and I are trying to install a bathroom in one of his rental properties. Yes, odd-jobs follow me. Even in Canada.

Every odd job is another notch of experience. And there's always a built-in moment to call headquarters.

Photo credit here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

little christmas on the prairie

I've always been fascinated with and attracted to Agent Wife's family here in Saskatchewan.

They're very close-knit and have recent ancestors who were some of the pioneers of this province. I guess that's not too impressive as Saskatchewan is very young. It just celebrated it's 100th birthday a year ago or so. But even in the 1940's and 50's when my father-in-law grew up, it was still a very outdoorsy, roughing-it kind of life.

His family basically had to build and maintain most everything they had. I think he had to go to a creek, bust ice, and haul water on occasion. And he always brags about how tough they were with the cold. Like how a glass of water 3 feet from his bed would be frozen by morning.

Agent Wife has this inbred knack of making things work with what you have. She can improvise most anything under any situation.

Me - I grew up in the Houston suburbs, the birthplace of consumeristic wealth and waste. When something broke or became annoying, we just threw it away and bought a new one.

Agent Wife grew up with cousins and second cousins as best friends. They were real close and still talk to each other today.

Me - I just discovered I had second cousins last year. I'm an only child. And my handful of first cousins are scattered or recluses. So it goes.

The newest thing I've discovered about Agent Wife and her family is reflected in her recent post about her parent's household. I never realized how much they welcome in the stragglers and misfits to be a part of their household. The day we flew in they were welcoming in a 10 year-old foster child girl who happens to be a new Canadian resident. She spent most of her childhood in a Ghana refugee camp fleeing Liberia.

This young girl spent christmas with us, travelling the city making the rounds with Agent Wife's family.

Funny: words like "community" are the latest buzzwords in the church realm, like maybe it's a new concept. I think my in-laws have been living community for years without making a big intellectual stink about it.

Agent Wife and I celebrated our 9th anniversary last week. And I can remember back when we first married how we were youthful and slightly arrogant. We wanted to chart a different path than our parents. Like maybe we had it all figured out or something and maybe they were bad role models.

This trip, we're discovering that we want to be more like our parents.

Friday, December 21, 2007

cult of personality

A few years ago I learned to not bring any books to read at my in-law's house in Saskatchewan. Their basement library is vast and slightly fascinating. There are too many items I desire to read, even during a colossal three week visit.

My first choice thus far is No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn M. Brodie. Which is odd, as I've never had any interests in Mormonism one way or another.

My reading has opened my eyes to people's ease of following a dynamic personality, regardless of that personality's blatant fraud or lack of "good fruit".

Thus, my reading has opened my eyes to my own following of various individuals throughout my life. None have been as infamous as the mormon prophet. But charismatic, likable people none the less.

So there. I admit that I am not immune to being suckered by a smiling face or etc. I wonder if any of us really are immune to this.

I think the temptation in most people is to get others to follow us. That could be good or bad. And is having others follow us really the call of Jesus. Probably not.

Probably, the challenge of pointing others to jesus involves a balance between being likable and being an asshole.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

turn the other cheek

Being in canada and all and not having kept up with much news, I remember passing by a TV in the airport that was talking about some major shooting at a church in Colorado.

It was something about a crazed gunman killing a person or two. So a church security guard* shot and killed him.

Yesterday, my lefty friend wrote a good post quoting a letter some guy wrote to the pastor of that church. It's pretty powerful, and probably the only real christ-like response I've heard yet.

It's definitely a far better read than the story from the fair mother city's newspaper featuring local pastor's responses. And to think...I use to be employed by one of those social clubs.

Most would question the author of the letter on Lefty's blog (or my response) by stating, "so...should we just wait for a tragedy, unarmed?!?"

My response to that: Probably not. Unfortunately, with a large social club meeting, you should probably spend resources protecting yourselves. Not that I like saying that, nor would I suggest it if I found myself on staff at a social club again.

I think this makes a good case for believers staying outside the mega-church or social club network all together. Because inevitably, one must go in this "armed" direction.

*Hey, they pay clergy. So why not an armed guard?

Photo credit here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the show must go on

First off: I am an uncle. I had a niece born yesterday. My kids and I go to the hospital to meet her tonight. I love her name (which will not be shared here. Sorry)

My sister-in-law was induced Friday morning. Both Agent Wife and their mom and possibly my brother-in-law's mom had been with her since then. So, after 33 hours or so, my mother-in-law and Agent Wife were fairly wasted.

But, today is Sunday. And by god, maybe there's a special place in hell for people who miss church. Especially on pot-luck Sunday. Especially if you don't bring something for pot-luck Sunday.

I mean, I love my wife's family and all. A lot. And like Agent Wife, I too want to honor them by joining in on what her family does and etc.

But one would think that after a weekend of little sleep and emotional craziness, it might be OK to stay home Sunday morning. Especially since the house ran out of water (there may be modern conveniences here on the prairies, but Pa still has to fetch water down at the crick).

But then again, I'm the guy who's not real pro-church. Or pro-social club. What would I know.

However, this morning's social club gathering turned out OK. I just think there's some kind of invisible, guilt-ridden force that makes people attend the club, even when I suspect Jesus himself would have stayed home in this situation.

*photo credit here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

arrived: frozen prairieland

Somehow, my family and I made it to Saskatchewan after fog delays in DFW. We missed our flight from DFW to Minneapolis by 2 minutes. Literally - 2 minutes. And I always thought that the printed departure time was just to scare you into being on time as they really left about 10 minutes later. Not this flight.

Come on. We were running while carrying two toddlers and backpacks. The next flight wasn't for about 8 hours. At least the airline moved us to another airline via Calgary, resulting in being only 4 hours late as opposed to 10. Not bad. Thank you CEO.

I actually performed a jedi mind trick in Calgary. We had to clear customs and pick up our luggage before checking into the last flight in less than an hour. The guy at the ticket desk says, "aww man, I'm going to have to send you and all your bags upstairs to a different desk to get the right paperwork". That would have been more than a colossal inconvenience, making us miss the next flight.

"No. You can do it right here", was all I said. Man it actually worked. I always knew there was power in our words.


I have started communicating back to headquarters during my treks across the frozen acreage. So far, all I've received was some friendly black lab that appeared out of no-where wanting to play. I named her By-Tor - from By-Tor and the Snow Dog.

Monday, December 10, 2007

happy life day

Syncroblog for December 12, 2007: Redeeming the season.

Can christmas be redeemed from the anti-christ of materialism? Can hanukah be redeemed from lack of music? Can the multitudes of other winter holidaze be redeemed from political correctness? Hell if I know.

But I figure if the entire Star Wars movies can be redeemed from THIS, then anything is possible.

Happy Life Day, suckers.

Adam Gonnerman's Igneous Quill
Swords into Plowshares at Sonja Andrew's Calacirian
Fanning the Flickering Flame of Advent at Paul Walker's Out of the Cocoon
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Eager Longing at Elizaphanian
The Battle Rages at Bryan Riley's Charis Shalom
Secularizing Christmas at
There's Something About Mary at Hello Said Jenelle
Geocentric Versus Anthropocentric Holydays at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Celebrating Christmas in a Pluralistic Society at Erin Word's Decompressing Faith
Redeeming the season -- season of redemption by Steve Hayes
Remembering the Incarnation at Alan Knox' The Assembling of the Church
A Biblical Response to a Secular Christmas by Glenn Ansley's Bad Theology
Happy Life Day at The Agent B Files
What's So Bad About Christmas? at Julie Clawson's One Hand Clapping

Saturday, December 08, 2007

canada bound, year end reflections

Like last year at this time, my family and I are headed to Saskatchewan for an extended stay, time with in-laws, holidays, respite, an etc.

Traveling to Canada two years in a row is not our norm. This trip’s primary objective is to help welcome our new niece/nephew into the world. Yes, Agent Wife’s lil' sis is due to be induced shortly after we arrive.

Our in-laws made this travel possible. Thank you. And being that my tree employment doesn’t have much in the way of work for me in December and January, it’s easy to be gone.

My secondary goal on this trip is to seek the word of the CEO for the coming year. Last year he gave me a clear word about forging ahead in what we were already doing. I wasn’t real excited about hearing that. But here at the end of 2007, I can say with confidence that “forging ahead” worked. So that word must have been from the CEO. Our year had no shortage of miracles and events:

1) We made it through the year with no significant income generator or new path in life.
2) Our one and only car still runs.
3) We have been quite healthy.
4) I began a quirky part-time manual labor job with Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc. after the CEO revealed this opportunity to me via a dream that previous night. I’m still trying to figure out the purpose of this gig. I think it has a lot to do with humbling, and possible pruning in a spiritual sense.
5) After much desire and prayer, the opportunity op
ened up to travel to the Boston area. I finally met up with several from the agent network after two years of communication. I also met new friends, and the God For People Who Hate Church gig was far better than I anticipated.
6) The functional Evang-e-Dropping Eradication Operation ministry was formed on accident. My eyes are continuing to be opened on the guilt tactics of evangelicals: from hell to love and everything in between. And I’m still trying to determine if guilt inflicted by another is a good thing or not.
7) I am still heavily inspired by the faith escapades of Uncle George. And although hardly mentioned this year, I still dream about The Table while plotting and scheming if not pondering its existence.
8) Watching Obi-Wan’s health skyrocket after an amputation has been inspiring. And the entire debt relief from his two major medical bills pretty much made my year.
9) I believe it’s official that my music act has been resurrected. I foresee many more opportunities with it in 2008.

Hopefully there will be opportunity to trudge alone in the snow around the perimeter of my in-law’s acreage. And here, I would like to receive instructions from the CEO in how to proceed with 2008.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

obi-wan adventures

Agent Wife somehow convinced my dear friend, neighbor, mentor, and all-around inspiration for the Sanford & Son TV show - Obi-Wan to join us for our annual christmas light viewing with our kids. We loaded up The Falcon and shifted into super slow-mo cruise speed through upscale neighborhoods that probably wouldn’t host us otherwise.

I guess The Millenium Falcon, my '93 Lincoln with the peeling paint can be a suspicious-looking car. Especially with a long-haired guy, a tall woman, two toddlers, and a leg-less 90-year old man.

That’s probably why we were followed and pulled over by the cops. Didn’t signal 100-feet before the turn, my ass. He was profiling me. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for jackass. Move along. For crying out loud, how else are people supposed to look at christmas lights?

I think that was the most excitement Obi-Wan’s had in years.

Then today we finally went to his long-awaited eye appointment. He is now due to have cataract surgery in January.

Obi-Wan is black. And I usually refer to black people as black instead of African-american only because you never know when African-american is accurate (and black is shorter to say). I mean, the moment people discover Agent Wife is half-black, they say, “Oh, I didn’t know she’s African-american”. To which I say, “She’s not African OR American. She’s Jamacian-Canadian with a green card. Get it right”.

When I’m out on the town with Obi-Wan, I’ve noticed a unique social grace between black people and Obi-Wan that I’ve never witnessed with anyone else. Other black people who are total strangers will give him the friendliest greeting when they pass by. They won’t even know each other. I assume this is more about his age than his race, so people are being nice to an old guy. But still, I’ve never seen people of other races politely greet elderly strangers of the same race like younger black people do to Obi-Wan.

The first time I ever saw this was in a grocery store with Obi-Wan several years ago. Some young handsome black guy passed by and went straight up to Obi-Wan, patted him on the back, smiled and said something like, “hello sir, how are you doing today?” Obi-Wan responded half in jest like “getting around like an old car, but I’m getting around”. They both said see you later and walked off.

I asked Obi-Wan who that was. “Hell if I know” he said.

Anyway, this special elderly/race greeting happened twice today while waiting in the eye doctor lobby. It happens all the time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

conspiracy theories

This is just a random thought I had last weekend on the evang-e-droppings gig. There is no deep research to back this up.

It seems like there are basically two different approaches to Christianity: 1) a hell approach or 2) a love approach. And each have their ills. I know these two approaches come across real black or white. This is just for the sake of making a weird point, and possible discussion. There are, of course, multitudes of grey areas and exceptions in real-life.

The Hell Approach – or possibly the hate approach. The tract passers are part of this. They take a “hell” approach to the gospel as a way to guilt or scare people to becoming part of the faith. Those guys in Kansas with the “god hates fags” signs are an extreme example.

The Love Approach – aka “father heart”. This way basically says, “God loves you”. It can also move into areas like, “god would have you be rich and prosper and never feel pain”. Everything aired on TBN would be an extreme example of this approach.

It can be argued that both approaches can be backed up by scripture. The “hells” love things like John 3:36 (“God’s wrath remains on sinners”) while the “loves” go for John 14:14 (“ask me anything in my name and I will do it”).

These are probably poor scripture examples for my point. It’s late. Sorry.

Admittedly, I lean heavily toward the love approach. And I can throw around many scriptures to back that up as well as real-life testimony too. But having recently come from a love approach church (with an authoritarian dictatorship), I noticed something.

Churches from the hell approach do not have to shove “authority” into their member’s faces. Churches from the love approach preach “authority” all the time.

My friend the nurse practitioner suggested that this is because people in the hell church are already submissive as they live in guilt and fear, whereas people in the love church don’t. So leaders in the love church must preach authority constantly.

This makes the love approach somewhat ironic, since authoritarian dictatorships or anything kin to it seems the opposite of love.

Just random and poorly executed conspiracy theories. Any thoughts?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

evang-e-droppings #009

It was another weekend on the Evang-e-droppings Eradication Operation. We netted a whopping 22 tracts. This weekend the tract of choice was the home-grown purple one by the local tract crew.

Last week there were absolutely none to be found. Zero. That kind of sucked because it was cold and rainy and I went out anyway. But there were tons of beer bottles in various parking lots to be picked up – way more than usual. At first I assumed the local tract crew took a week off since it was Thanksgiving. But then I wondered if maybe the night club was closed that weekend, thus patrons had their own parties in the parking lot. I don’t know.

I have yet to officially announce this, but my family and I will be in Canada for almost an entire month beginning next week. I plan to pick up tracts this coming weekend (Dec 9), but if any locals care to take over this operation for any of the next four weekends, be my guest. It’s easy and it only takes an hour or less. I can train you on Dec 9 if you wish.

This operation has existed for four months now. And I had no idea it would last this long. I am still quasi-reluctant to brazenly criticize another believer’s means of spreading the gospel – even if it’s a tactic that I see little if any fruit in.

But the more I pick up evang-e-droppings, the more passionate I become, not so much about the operation, but passionate against a hell message as a means of guilting people into a life of faith.

I have been thinking a lot about drive-by evangelism. At first, it’s easy to recognize my disdain: there is no relationship involved. It’s “Here, Jesus loves you” or whatever, while you hand a stranger some paper and move on to the next.

But the more I read these tracts themselves, I can’t seem to find any love in them.

I John 4 and I Corinthians 13 tell us that god is love. Everything of the CEO is of love, otherwise it’s all just useless noise.

Also, I’ve been pondering two basic approaches to christianity and its accompanying churches: 1) hate/hell or 2) love/father-heart. There are ills within both camps. And of course there are many gray areas and exceptions. More on that later.

Still seeking silence within the cacophony.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


In reference to the last report, where I mentioned that my family and I are either on a potential spiritual wilderness journey, or we’re just weird and I’m an idiot (I lean towards the former, yet there’s that possibility of the latter)...

After about two years or more of fumbling through prayers and communications in general to the CEO of the universe, I think I finally refined these pathetic ramblings into a brief, three-tiered statement:

Are we in the wilderness? If so, what is the task/life you are preparing us for? If not, open some doors for me to move on into a new direction in life (ie: get out of the fair mother city and get a real job).

Throughout The Book, the wilderness is always where a) a person has no resources except the CEO and b) a person is broken of everything in his/her life in order to go into some new task, ministry, whatever.

For what it’s worth, I’m still praying this three-tiered deal like the persistent widow in Luke 18. So one day on the job at Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc, The Son has me do my absolute least favorite part of this job – split wood.

Truth is, I’m not a very strong guy. I have a high level of endurance because of my thin size so I can work hard all day. But to go at something with repetitive strength wears me out quicker than a weak kitten after 10-15 minutes. Then I’m worthless the rest of the day.

I’ve been working on this small pile of mesquite to split for a few weeks. And every other day The Son makes the pile bigger.

So it’s the end of my day and after about 10 minutes of splitting I figure I’ll just quit and go home. The pile will be waiting for me later. But for some weird-ass reason, I get this notion to keep at it. I kept saying I’d quit after two more. Then another two. And so forth.

And before I knew it the whole pile was finished in like 20 minutes. And I wasn’t wore out. And I got better with each one.

I know this example and my analogy sounds so gay, but maybe this was the CEO showing me about sticking with it through the wilderness.