Sunday, December 06, 2009

the testimony files

I guess it's no news here that we are receiving an assignment change from headquarters and moving up north. But this week I received our passports back and mine is officially stamped with an immigrant visa. We have until August 3rd (or 3rd of to start getting used to using the day before the month) until it expires.

We officially announced to all of our friends, extended family, and vague acquaintances that we are moving. Most responded with joy and well wishes. Others with shock and disbelief, as if leaving Abilene is unfathomable.

The little known miracle here, and thus testimony to the masses, is how fast this happened. "This" being my immigration process.

We mailed all of our applications, photos, FBI records, and photo copies of our anal cavities to Ontario on 25 August 2009. My visa is stamped 17 November.

That's less than three months. This process was supposed to take around twelve months, possibly longer.

The doors in our desert period have been closing for the past year or so. And thus the doors in our new calling are wide open.

Monday, November 09, 2009

wrapping up the final chapter

Agent Wife recently wrote a letter to both The Tiger and The Bulldog in prison. They are in the same cell block and should be released within a month of each other next summer.

They both wrote back. Tiger, always the clown, stated something like, "Can't wait to BBQ with you again...because the food here sure does suck". I can just hear him saying that. Bulldog on the other hand is having a more spiritual change and thus his letter is more down to earth, stating things like, "this ain't the life for me" and "I'm going to change". Wow.


Obi-Wan is still Obi-Wan. I don't get over there as much as I use to. I miss our afternoon visits and such. And I really miss our dinners together when he'd cook some meat and we'd bring over something he might eat or might not. It's getting harder for him to cook these days, and he really hates that.


The days fly by when working on my current house flip project, due to finish in about 3 weeks or so. If I stopped and looked at my life with the eyes of the rat racers, I should be bored and or ashamed of trudging away at manual labor. But I'm having an absolute blast. This really brings out a dormant artistic side of mine. Although most days don't seem too artsy. But the big picture is: creating something desirable (and valuable) from something undesirable. I love every minute. Every ounce of energy I have is going into this, so it seems.


And again...on the assignment change...things are moving so fast that I would be surprised if we are still in the fair mother city six months from now.

I recently received a letter from the Canadian consulate who is processing my permanent residence status. It basically stated: "You're in. Send us your passports so we can stamp them with the appropriate visas".

I mailed off the passports today. When they come back, I think we should have about 3-6 months to get up there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

new assignment: progress report

My Canadian immigration status is progressing quite well.

Back in August we mailed in a package of papers as thick as a dictionary. One month to the day we received a response from immigration officials notifying us that the first of two major hurdles was cleared: Agent Wife can sponsor me. Her sponsorship was never an issue in my mind, but I was pleased to hear back about something so quick.

Now, my permanent residence request is in the hands of a different office where it could take 6 to 12 months for processing. Whatever happens, happens. But we would love to have our oldest start school there next September and thus be settled in by mid summer. So we are praying for a quick turnaround like the first hurdle.

Thankfully, the Canadian government has a track record with me on communicating through any red tape process. It's quite nice. A far cry from Agent Wife's American immigration ordeal ten years ago where we were left in the dark almost two and a half years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

adios, forty-nine cent

My fast-living, heavy drama, and Eminem stunt double coworker Forty-Nine Cent is no longer with us. He broke his parole a few weeks ago in a way that would be impossible to hide from the authorities.

Upon learning of his potential fate, both the Jedi Master and myself (and maybe even Chuckie) advised Forty-Nine Cent to turn himself in. He sat on that a while and eventually did so via a scheduled parole meeting.

In the six months I've known him, I've watched Forty-Nine Cent go from newly wed to expectant father to getting kicked out of the house to sleeping on friend's couches. Now, back to prison.

I honestly wanted to see him succeed in life even if his half-assed work output annoyed the hell out of me.

Forty-Nine Cent is one of those guys who doesn't know what truth is. Everything in his universe is a word game and a poker match. Truth is created out of thin air. If he was highly educated he'd make a good lawyer. And by that, I mean a terrible lawyer. He makes excuses for everything as does his mother in his behalf.

Dear CEO: if this is the best thing for him, please show him the liberating freedom of truth. And please care for his unborn child.

Adios bro. We had good times. And with my impending assignment transfer to Canada, I will most likely never see you again. May the CEO bles you and keep you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

least likely

Recently, I built a deck for the current flip house project of mine. I've never built a deck. I have assisted in some similar projects, but never have I gone solo on anything this large alone.

For nearly three days I designed this and labored alone while the Jedi Master and the crew worked at a different job site. Numerous times early on, I threatened to drop everything and join the others. My confidence lacked in this hurdle. And it's more comfortable to be a robot and follow orders in this line of work than for me to a) plan and b) execute with little experience.

Overall, the deck (and patio cover) is complete. And although I can (and will) nit pick every last ridiculous detail and unflattering asthetics of the entire project, a professional carpenter would be proud of it. It is very square, very sturdy, and very functional.

My lack of confidence is possibly my "thorn in my side" as that guy Paul makes vague references to in the new testament. And I've rarely confessed this: my lack of self confidence is the reason I am not a professional musician today. I never seem to be pleased with my music.

But always, the CEO shows me that I can do things my head deems impossible.

I have a minor obsession with history books and literature on the subject of mass evil (the holocaust, genocides, child sex slavery, etc). Some would say that's unhealthy. I say it's a healthy dose of sobering reality. Amidst the joys and great freedoms in my western world I refuse to get lost in those freedoms.

I am currently reading Searching For Schindler by Thomas Kenneally who also authored Schindler's List in the 1980s (the basis for the Spielberg movie). It recounts his interviews and massive research for his first book on Schindler.

I have gathered much about Oskar Schindler that I didn't pick up on in the movie (it's been years since I've seen it). Mainly: Oskar was one royally screwed up human. A failure of a husband, a major womanizer, heavy drinker, and proud swastika wearing party member who screwed and raped the nazis from within by making millions in the black market and manufacturing ammunition duds - he hardly seems like a christ figure to the entire jewish nation. But somehow, he had compassion and extreme generosity that drove him to keep several hundred jew alive and healthy.

I've always loved how the CEO of the universe uses least likely candidates to perform important tasks.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


If there was ever a week from hell on the job site, this past week would be one.

I try not to seek out demons behind every bush and/or activity in life as my charismatic church days have taught me. But sometimes I am convinced that there is more than meets the eye in various situations.

In one way or another, our foursome (Jedi Master, Chuckie, Forty-Nine Cent, and myself) are working on my second flip project. Perhaps I bit off more than I can chew with this one. Over all, we WILL be successful with this house. But it appears to be an uphill battle, which is more than we anticipated before purchase. So it goes. But carry on we must.

We were into week three: little visible change, much grueling labor ala house leveling etc., discovered that the lean-to garage is not salvageable – after working on it at least two days, a trio of prostitutes who live down the street soliciting their services to me and the guys, and two of our crew either facing or contemplating divorce.

Then, during a moment of little production and personal counseling between Forty-Nine Cent (who just received news of his wife’s desire for divorce) and the Jedi-Master, the female trio from down the block start shouting Forty-Nine’s name and flashing themselves.

If there was ever a calculated attack from the enemy of this world - that would be it I think.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for a work partner like the Jedi Master who agreed with me to drop our tools, call it a day, and join me in prayer at my home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

fine line

I believe my Canadian immigration status is progressing as fast as it can. We still haven’t mailed in our applications that have been worked on for over a month. I have jumped through every hoop: been fingerprinted by the local sheriff, OK’ed by the FBI and Texas Dept of Safety, bought almost $100 in passport photos, paid $250 to a doctor in Dallas to tell Canada that I’m medically OK, and hunted down a real copy of my birth certificate.

But now the real gymnastics: trying to pay for the application fees. It’s not that we don’t have the damn near $1000 for the application fees (that’s a turnip that might have enough blood in it), but every immigration website runs us around in circles as to WHAT to pay and WHERE to pay it.

So, we are praying that a phone call to a Canadian embassy next week will solve this.

Meanwhile, of the handful of people we have shared this news with, it’s not surprising that the smattering of people that make up my family are not excited about our move.

I don’t know why. I guess it makes sense being that I’m the only child my parents have. But I don’t have hoards of aunts, uncles, or cousins that will miss me. So why stick around anyway I figure. I’m not that close to the people I’m blood related to.

My mother refuses to acknowledge the subject of our move. She goes silent when it’s mentioned. Not surprising I guess. Silent treatment or subject changing is how she’s responded with everything I’ve wanted to do that was outside her suburban work-a-holic judgmental church-going universe. Which is about 99% of the actions in my entire life.

I’ve always wondered if there was any preacher out there who gave a sermon on the fine line between ”honor thy father and thy mother” and Jesus’ words of ”hate your own parents to follow me”.

Jesus was being a tad metaphorical with that “hate” part, or so I assume. But honoring and hating are about as polar opposites as you can get.

I wouldn’t say I hate my own parents. But maybe not giving a shit about their desires for my life is a version of hating them.

*photo by Alexander Dudley - 2004

Monday, August 10, 2009


Sometimes it is difficult for me to continue communicating via reports on the world wide waste-of-time through a blog outlet. Although several real-life events limit my commitment to such an endeavor these days, I also am a big believer that facebook killed the radio star. Thus, such reports might be an online version of spitting into the wind.

But where else can I explain that I rarely visit my dear friend, former catfish nugget chef and electric wheelchair enthusiest Obi-Wan. Some of this is based on time restraints. But most is conscious choice these days. Obi-Wan has become more of a griper and gossip than in the past. I really choose not to sit through another diatribe on how the acid queen has wronged him or how Lamont is the worst son in the world. But I feel guilty of this friendship avoidance. Am I only to hang around through the good times and not the annoying?

Once upon a time I would sit and listen patiently. Then later, I would slowly interject opposing, if not contemplative questions and views mildly defending those who have wronged us. Because ultimately, we too are sinners, and so forth. But no avail. Obi-Wan wants the universe to know of those who have wronged him. Or whatever.

I have yet to tell him of our assignment change coming within the next twelve months. I think the news could send him towards death. He hates it when we leave on vacation because he “misses seeing our car in the driveway across the street”.

Often I wonder about the timing of his life and our exit from the fair mother city. I had assumed Obi-Wan would pass on by the time we moved. But maybe he won’t. I don’t know.

Friday, July 31, 2009

so long frieda

In the ever continuing examples of closing doors on our assignment in the fair mother city...

The sudden departure of Frieda Sanford.

About two weeks ago, Frieda announced that she and her daughter Jessie are moving several blocks across town by the first of August. Frieda and her long time boyfriend Manuel (owner of the house next to mine) are splitting up.

She and her three kids have lived next door as long as we’ve been here. And of course, we knew her, the kids, her sister, and her late mother from the izzy group food pantry days of yesteryear.

Living next door to Frieda has been fun. It’s also been culturally interesting and educational for me.

Frieda showed me probably the closest depiction on earth of Jesus’ words: sell all you have and give to the poor. Well, she never seemed to hold on to anything for long. Everything was always for sale or given away. Like maybe material possessions mean little to her.

And without Frieda’s knowing, she showed me what Jesus’ words of “I was a stranger, and you invited me in” might have meant. She always had some rag-tag group of come-and-goers sleeping in her house. She even housed an abandoned 17-year old girl for a period of time. That girl recently returned for a visit with her boyfriend. I think she’s now 21.

I am truly going to miss the backyard BBQs, the Christmas gathering with dollar store trinket gifts for all, the robotic small talk gatherings on her front porch, and yes...even the damn garage sales every two weeks.

We got our dog from Frieda’s late mom. The Bossman and I conducted a funeral service for her mother. I feel like an awkward white middle-class member of her family.

Her sons The Bulldog and The Tiger hit their culture’s right of passage by moving off to prison a few months ago. Now Frieda and Manuel’s fragile and shallow shack-up relationship has finally ended.

So long neighbor. Good times were had. You will be missed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

scouting trip: report

Agent Wife, the three offsprings and I recently returned from scouting the landscape of our future assignment from headquarters.

You heard it here on the agent b files: we are moving to Canada. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say in the south.

This news is still pretty hush hush info. Many of our close friends, family, and neighbors don’t know this and won’t be told until probably new years. Our target moving date is summer 2010, and that revolves around my immigration status. I have begun the immigration process last week.

I know: big shocker. The agent family household is moving to Agent Wife’s homeland and the place Agent B talks about all the time. Never saw that coming.

Our recent trip was disguised as one of our vacations to visit family in Saskatchewan. And we did that of course. But we spent a week in the region our upcoming assignment, which is three hours away from Agent Wife’s parents.

In typical Agent B fashion, the real name of the town we’re moving to will be under the pseudonym Dog River. The real name will be disguised due to it’s very small size (pop 2000) and thus lack of anonymity for secret agents.

Dog River, Saskatchewan is a dichotomy of dichotomies, in my view. It is a small lake resort town, mostly filled with wealthy people’s summer lake homes and get-a-way cottages. The average income there is way above the national average.

But Dog River is surrounded by several First Nations (native) reservations, which is the extreme poverty culture of Canada.

The history of Canadians and their native population is similar to that in the US. But it seems more prevalent due to much recent history and lack of other minority issues that the US is plagued with. There is too much history to mention here. I may write more later as I learn more on modern Native culture in the coming weeks and months.

Agent Wife’s cousin Tina and her husband Joe are school teachers in the town. They both are involved with an outreach ministry to the poor that they both have actively volunteered for and sought funding for several years.

And Agent Wife’s other cousin John (Tina’s brother) and his wife Jane live there as well. John works for the city of Dog River and Jane is a government employed nutritionist that works directly with the reservations. They also play management roles with the outreach.

This outreach (which is currently shut down as they lost their rental unit) is practically run by a 60-something year old native woman named Martha. She gave Agent Wife & I a tour of her home reservation that’s named after her late grandfather who was the chief.

I can’t describe it accurately, but the poverty surrounding the native people was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve been to some mud-hut regions of Africa in addition to West Texas ghettos.

There is just some bizarre indescribable hopelessness cloaked over the native regions. I received a very small taste of it during our tour when Martha drove us out to a beach off one of the lakes. Out of nowhere, some gangster wanna-be looking kid comes out of the bushes and asks me for a cigarette. I said I had none. Then asked me to sell him beer. Again, I had no beer on me. He just stared aimlessly and said, “are you SERIOUS?”

It wasn’t that I was hit up for smokes or beer. That happens all the time in the fair mother city. It was the location. I mean, we were in the freaking middle of NOWHERE down some dirt road for miles. It was just weird. Hopeless.

Anyway, we saw clearly how our family could fit into this town and environment and how the CEO seems to be slowly orchestrating this for years. We are finally about to leave the desert and go into our new calling.

Meanwhile, as excited as I am to leave the fair mother city, I am going to spend the next year enjoying everything I can here and embrace this nutty conservative religious culture. I guess.

Until then, the agent b files is still up and running as I continue to report of our dealings around Abilene. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

addendum: first baptist

In response to the previous post, former fair mother city resident Agent S emailed this to me:

Thanks for asking tough questions and holding people accountable. And for being my Abilene informant. I get most of my Abilene news from you. Here is what one of my friends had to say about the Sunday after the vandalism.

"At church on Sunday, the focus was on forgiveness and what can we do to help the young man who broke the windows. Phil gave a very moving address to the subject. Several members of our Sunday School class are lawyers and are looking into when the young man will be on trial so we can go show support and compassion to him, as well as see what he might need. I was proud of our church body."

It's always good to report the positive side that won't be in the local paper.

Thanks FBC - Abilene.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

dear first baptist of abilene

Dear First Baptist Church of Abilene,

I am so sorry to hear of the vandalism that happened to your property a few nights ago. Like the six or seven other downtown businesses, you must feel violated and angry. I know I would.

Vandalism is such a self-centered act that should never be condoned by anyone.

Thankfully the vandal came forward and confessed. Maybe he manned up and volunteered this information. Or maybe he was confronted by the law. Who knows.

But please, I beg of you. Use this opportunity to practice Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness. I mean hey, the WHOLE city is watching you via these news reports. What a grand opportunity to show the power of forgiveness to those who don’t follow Jesus.

I know you suffered a LOT of damage - stained glass that’s not easily replaced and so forth. But really, whining to media outlets about $50,000 to $100,000 of damage doesn’t hold water. The WHOLE city of Abilene knows that this amount of money is NOTHING to you.

Nobody is praising this guy’s actions. And I am not arguing to keep him from accountability. The law will take care of that. I mean, a third degree felony and $300,000 bond is nothing to scoff at.

But PLEASE, grab this opportunity to teach the city about forgiveness.

*photo by Victor Cristales of the ARN

Saturday, June 20, 2009


As a follower of Christ and as an embedded undercover missionary within the poverty culture, I’ve always sought the balance between wealth and poverty. Between enjoying what you have and giving what you have. Between the words of Jesus and the nonsense of North American middle-class culture.

My friend The Shaman (formerly of Chickasha, OK and now of the Rocky Mountains in CO) recently wrote of Ecclesiastes in his daily on-line journal. His mention of Eccl. chapter 9 verse 7 and onward in defense of enjoying what the CEO of the universe has given us makes sense. The Shaman uses this verse to follow his words “When we have a real empathy for the needs of others, especially the misfortunate and poor, there is a tendency to have guilt about our own personal blessings and provisions”.

Basic gist: have care for those without. But enjoy your bread & wine. Enjoy your wife. Keep yourself clean, and work with all your might.

Oddly enough, I’ve always tended to agree with this. I surely enjoy my wife. And wine. And Golden Monkey Belgian triple ale.

But I still scratch my head over followers of Christ spending vast resources on gawdy property when the local poor go without.

In the local news this week, a local church bought the legendary mansion on Buffalo Gap road with hopes of turning it into a public event center and church function shin-dig house. This 12,000 sq foot monstrosity is in grave disrepair so this church is also raising funds to fix it up, under a non-prof outfit. So it goes.

This house is so bloated and asinine that even its builders/original owners back in 1983 couldn’t keep it after a few years.

The OLD Agent B would have lambasted this church’s purchase without question.

The NEW Agent B questions the comparison of enjoying ones wine from god with buying ridiculous property on the hopeful nickel of generous others for repair.

And the local poor still get nothing.

So it goes.

* photo by Kevin Halliburton

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Forty-Nine Cent

There is a new character working in the remodeling outfit along side myself, Chuckie, and The Jedi Master.

Forty-Nine Cent hails from Flint, Michigan but has been in the west Texas region for a good while. He claims to now be clean from a serious drug past that landed him in prison for five years. The prison-made mural tattooed across his body tells the tale of the snitch who sent him away, while the grim reaper lorded his life over specific years.

Admittedly, I never understood the gangster wanna-be attitude and culture. Even the baggy pants/boxer shorts uniform seems so impractical for a lifestyle that ends up on-the-run in a moments notice. Although cops have told me that they love this fashion when things digress into a foot chase. Baggy pants guys are easy to catch.

Forty-Nine Cent & I worked together this week and I’m glad to get to know him. He’s newly married and making a sincere effort to “settle down” and so forth.

Of course, the real beauty here is the redemption path that The Jedi Master is allowing Forty-Nine Cent to take. He worked for JM years ago and quit just as he stole a few hundred dollars in tools for a high. JM recently allowed him to work off that debt and start fresh.


Friday, May 29, 2009

testimony #042

My dream of house flipping has become complete with the sale closing yesterday.

I'm reporting this on the fly with little thought or deep meaning behind it. But anyway, I am thankful to the CEO of the universe who has once again given me an identity after many long years in the desert.

I am also thankful for my Jedi Master and Chuckie who have been beyond instrumental in my training of such endeavors.

I am thankful for Agent Wife and all three offsprings who are extremely supportive of my new found work and semi-passion.

And I will always be thankful for Nat Sherman "Nats" cigarillos and Victory Storm King Imperial Stout - the best beer I've found yet.

The Jedi Master will help me shop for a second house next week. I'm looking forward to doing this again (take THAT "recession").

Thanks for reading and for your interest.

Friday, May 22, 2009

the net

Howdy all. It’s old-school Agent B here in rare form.

Recently I heard a peculiar analogy for the social club-style church. Or better yet, the attraction-al model church.

A person was convincing others in a conversation how their church’s worship service needed to be superior quality and excellent (ie: above and beyond average singing and music, etc) since Sunday morning service is considered a net. Basically, make it nice and pretty so visitors will hang around, come back, join, and become part of the collective.

I could easily go off on that faulty notion of excellence and worship. Not that I embrace crap or second class worship or anything from the christian culture (Fireproof anyone?!?). But my kids make excellent paintings (or so I think) that wouldn’t be worth a dime on the street. But these paintings are priceless to me. I’m sure the CEO thinks likewise.

But a net? How shallow.

Sure. Nets catch large quantities of fish with little effort. But they also entangle, drown, and unintentionally destroy various marine life (dolphins, sea turtles, etc).

That little effort part: I guess a Sunday morning social club would need to be a net if the individual people or families won’t bother with the effort to live with, walk with and understand another individual or family for the long haul.

A net – interesting analogy.

Life-killing AND sloth-promoting.

*photo credit by Tom Campbell.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am pretty thankful for much. Especially these days.

- The Jedi Master and I are scheduled to close our (my) first house flip partnership at the end of this month. This house flipping ordeal has been an amazing journey and dream come true. Thank you CEO. I’m still in awe of how fast I got into this. I am pretty sure this was meant to be.

- I wrote a letter to The Bulldog (who is in state prison). He replied with the most humble response ever. Becoming spiritually minded in jail is pretty common. But The Bulldog was apologizing for “not being a good neighbor” and not respecting his mother the way he thought he should. I never had any problems with his neighboring. I wasn’t too crazy about the gangsters he attracted next door though. Hopefully, he will continue to seek the CEO. And hopefully, our letter correspondence will continue.

- And lastly, a new character in my life got me thinking. Uncle Rico is a painter who is working on the same house that the Jedi Master, Chuckie and I are hired to remodel. I still haven’t figured him out completely, but I’m liking him more and more. His wife has a good paying job, so Uncle Rico paints houses whenever he can find work. He seems to embrace life where he’s at and not chase after prestige or anything. I can respect that much.

Uncle Rico got me thinking: I am 38 years old and support myself and my family on an hourly wage, plus any random lawn jobs that come my way. And now, house flipping projects. I am really thankful that I don’t have to live a rat race.

Thank you CEO.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

prison bound

Before Frieda could tell me of The Tiger's court hearing, I stumbled across his verdict via a local news site.

The Tiger will spend the next year and a half in state prison.

I hate to see it happen. If there is a good side to this, it's that he's actually getting disciplined for something once in his life.

It kind of breaks me up a bit. As Agent Wife and I ponder our most likely assignment change, I often wonder if I'll ever see him walk as a free man again.

Change is definitely in the air. Our local assignment in this undisclosed location we call home is wrapping itself up.

The Tiger and his brother The Bulldog: one more chapter in our agent life closed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

waiting: reloaded

For the better part of six years, Agent Wife and I (and three offsprings who joined us) have been in the desert. It is mostly, a “spiritual desert” for lack of a better term. But don’t put it past the fair mother city to be a semi-arid region of the world as well.

For bible believing people, the desert is where you go just before some important mission, new ministry or life-long task. It is where you are trained, like army basic training. There are few if any physical resources. One must rely solely on our father in heaven (the CEO of the universe).

One of the outcomes of this period is learning how to wait. Waiting is not popular in the westernized world. We are impatient. We want our microwaved hot-n-ready pizzas now. And so forth. In the western world, waiting is considered a huge inconvenience. And inconvenience is considered a major crime against our human rights.

Thus, waiting is assumed to be like an inhumane act.

During the past six years (and during my bachelor days of long ago, looking for the right mate) I’d like to think that I had this waiting thing down.

But as I approach the 90 day mark on my house flip project sitting on the market with little interest, I discover that I have retained very little on the subject of waiting.

Granted, 90 days is not a long time for a house to be on any market. And 90 days is the average time frame in the Abilene housing market.

The Jedi Master, Chuckie (when he’s not mad at JM) and myself have filled in our time with various remodel jobs for customers. So, we have work. But not the kind of work I had envisioned and hoped for. I can’t do another house flip until #1 sells. So it goes.

CEO – I give you the project and forgive me of my restlessness. Thank you for everything going so well on it during the initial 8 weeks of remodeling.

Your communications with the CEO on my behalf are also appreciated.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

in the pokey

Last week I hitched a ride to the jail with Frieda Sanford to visit The Tiger.

This was my first time to be demoted to jail visits as a normal citizen. In the past, my ministry credentials with the izzy group allowed me 9-5 access behind bars. Now I had to stand in line with about 40 girlfriends, wives, and scattering kids for a one-time-a-week 30 minute evening visit. So it goes.

Waiting in the jail lobby brought back memories of the old izzy group food pantry days. The cultures are identical and I miss it.

Tiger is well. He's been on the work crew that goes around cleaning county roads and such 8-5 M-F. The work crew is for the privileged few: those who are in for a minor offense, are less likely to flee, and know how to work, etc. That's right up Tiger's alley.

He said the work crew also get shorter jail time (3:1), better food, and share a cell block which builds some sort of upper-level brotherhood.

I'm glad all is well for him at the local jail. Because, if he doesn't succeed at his upcoming court date then his fate will be like his brother's: state prison.

He told me when he gets out he will ditch his old friends and live on the up and up.

CEO - you are the only way up. Please show him this.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

operation: theft protection

After working 40 hour weeks for almost eight months straight, I have had no consistent work for almost a month now. Although I would prefer to be working (and REALLY prefer for my first house flip project to sell so that I could do another), I now see clearly how the CEO of the universe had me available for Obi-Wan these past few weeks.

As noted in the report that introduced The Acid Queen, she has signature authority on Obi-Wan’s checkbook. I released said checkbook to her back in December at Obi-Wan’s reluctant request and by her so-called claim that she is his power of attorney. I don’t know if she truly has power of attorney over him. Obi-Wan is confused about that.

But based on two months of bank statements, we have evidence that The Acid Queen has stolen money from Obi-Wan. The grand total is about $400 (that I know of), all made by The Acid Queen for her personal purchases, cell phone bills, and other things that were not in Obi-Wan’s best interests or made via his endorsement or knowledge.

After weeks of personal wrangling, Obi-Wan retrieved his checkbook from the reluctant Acid Queen.

This past week, I chauffeured him to his bank and operated as interpreter between Obi-Wan’s overly down-home chit-chat and the professional banking communiqué.

All in all, Obi-Wan has removed The Acid Queen from signature authority of his account. I don’t know when or how she will discover this as Obi-Wan wants her to “learn the hard way” and not mention it to her. I advised against this action to no avail.

My role here as operative walks a thin line: I want to assist Obi-Wan in every way possible as the CEO of the universe would have me do. But I want to remain Switzerland in his personal financial affairs. I’m sure The Acid Queen assumes I am operating with devious motives similar to hers. All of Obi-Wan’s friends have been rightfully suspicious of me throughout the years. But I have nothing to hide. And Obi-Wan’s fondness of me has created jealousies, so it goes.

I find it no coincidence that I am currently engulfed in books on various injustices throughout the world. This week, it’s Terrify No More by Gary Haugen (thanks Nurse!) which documents the international legal wranglings of the International Justice Mission, specifically their rescuing of three dozen child sex slaves in Cambodia in 2003. It’s a great read. I highly recommend it.

Although third-world under-aged sex slavery and US elderly financial abuse are basically apples and oranges, the same gist is there: remove the victim from the harmful situation with systematic and methodical prose.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

bad guys

My son, Agent Offspring #1, is four. And in his vast world view, there are two kinds of people: good guys and bad guys.

He plays various adventure scenarios in the back yard based on the embarrassing amount of videos I never thought we'd let our kids watch. And the characters in his play adventures are realistic but quasi predictable. The good guys do good stuff and the bad guys do bad stuff.

He's probably too young to comprehend that sometimes bad people do good things and sometimes good people do bad things. Hell, I can't always comprehend it.

And then there's "who gets to decide what is good and what is bad and what is the definition of good and bad". And on and on.

A couple of weeks ago, my next door neighbor, former backyard shadow, and garden wars competitor The Tiger finally went off to jail for some crimes he committed about two summers ago. He was on probation for a while until he broke his probation.

I told him about jail a while back, hoping to convince him to live on the up in up during the probation period. It didn't work I guess. I said "you're 18 now. You're a man in the law's eyes. No more pansy juvenile detention wus-ville. You'll get put in a cell with six other guys who will force you to be their girlfriend, all at the same time".

I love The Tiger. He really has good in him. A lot. I've seen it. I've lived next door to him for six years and have known him for four years prior to that from the old izzy group ministry food pantry days.

Not to defend his actions but, in many ways he never had a chance. I mean, he grew up moving every four to six months. His mom moved him and his two siblings into one roach infested hell hole after another. He grew up watching men beat his mom. I'm still amazed that to this day he has yet to copy that behavior. He's never had a girlfriend that I know of nor has he created or participated in any physical violence.

He's just such a follower. He's never had a grand goal or even any small goals and stuck with it. He's never had any parents or adult role models that had goals either. He just lives day to day and see what stuff happens. That's the poverty mentality.

But he's a good guy. Deep down. I know he is.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

state of affairs address

Almost four years ago I, Agent B, introduced myself to a small internet public via the agent b files and began sharing my adventures of both a) my spiritual desert period as well as b) my assignment within the poverty culture of a very religious North American city. And other than the occasional word from the CEO, prophetic-type observation within my own surroundings, or random jackass quips, I believe this blog has remained true to it’s mission: to report my discoveries, observations, and personal confessions as a middle-class westerner within relative poverty surroundings while remaining (somewhat) true to christ’s words in Matthew 6:1-4.

All of that to say – there hasn’t been much for me to report as of the past several months for reasons as follows:

1) My wife and I continue to plead with the CEO for an assignment change. I cannot imagine leaving the fair mother city with Obi-Wan still alive and well. But should he pass on, or the CEO gives the green light otherwise, we want to leave. Bad.

We have a realistic destination in mind, but it’s way too early to mention it. As for now, my family and I have stopped “investing” in the fair mother city. We just don’t have it in us anymore. We are spent. Never thought I’d say this but, I just don’t give a shit about Abilene, Texas anymore. Our time is up. The religious strongholds have not won over me. But I am weary. And besides, I’m pretty sure our time here has been a training period for the next phase of our lives.

2) Due to the above, I feel that there is little to say of my life and thus my lack of blogging. I really feel that anything I write now would only be a bunch of rehashed observations from the past four years. One can only say the same thing just so many times.

3) Since much of my day now revolves around trade work (which is physically taxing) I am usually tired by the end of the day. And when I get home there are two toddlers, a newborn, and a wife who is weary from dealing with them all day. I have little time or energy to write anything of significance.

I still have multitudes of observations of the poverty culture and the wealth culture from within my jedi padawan gig. But again, all has been said before one way or another.

On a related note, I am excited about this youtube clip going around of some famous guy on Conan O’Brien’s show ranting about the whineyness (or joylessness) of our wealthy culture. I see this all the time during remodel jobs for wealthier people. People can always find some ridiculous little nuance to be unhappy about. Meanwhile, we installed a laminate floor for an elderly woman who seems to live pretty simple and she was the easiest human to work for. Have lots = bitching & whining. Have little = thankful for everything. Go figure.

Back to the subject – the agent b files isn’t going anywhere. I haven’t heard to shut it down. But my reports may continue to thin out.

My thanks to the handful of you who continue to find value in these writings, thus continue reading. To all – my apologies for not keeping this blog as active as it once was. Thanks for your communications and comments over the years. And please continue to communicate whenever possible. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the aliens

One of the major chapters in the life of Agent Wife and myself is our African friends. About four or five years ago Agent Wife somehow got hooked up with a large African family through her French speaking abilities.

This family is actually four separate households – all siblings: two brothers and their two sisters. The oldest brother is some 20 years older than the other three, so he’s like the patriarch or something. And some have spouses and children and so forth. So, they’re a large group.

They came to the fair mother city through a non profit program called the IRC: International Rescue Committee. It’s a group that assists in bringing immigrants from war torn countries seeking asylum. They pay for the plane fare to the US, find housing, speed up the immigration process, assist in finding jobs (always hourly pay labor since even the educated don’t know our culture, language, etc), and assist in government subsidies (food stamps, etc).

Then they have 4-6 months to be completely self sufficient when all the subsidies end. And oh yeah, they have to pay back that plane fare. Air fare don’t grow on trees, I guess.

So Agent Wife & I stumble upon a great DVD at the library that I highly recommend: The Lost Boys of Sudan. It’s not just some boring documentary (which I like those, btw). But it’s pretty entertaining. Like the Napoleon/Pedro-esque technique of a young man trying to impress a female by giving her caged birds he caught.

Lost Boys is filmed in a “reality show” style, minus both the nonsense and ego filled soliloquies. The characters share a very similar story and life to our local African friends here in the fair mother city, which helped open our eyes to their daily issues.

If anything, this film can effectively show Christ followers the difficulty of daily life for the aliens in our midst. I hope it raises your compassion for those far from home.

Monday, February 23, 2009

the last step

The Baileys are my across the street neighbors that I rarely have contact with, thus their first ever mention here in these reports. Mary Bailey is in her 70's I'm guessing. Her son Ted is probably 45 or 50.

Ted ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer. And that's not me being a jackass. There's really something up with him. He's not mentally handicapped, but he's dang close. When I first moved here six years ago Ted was just released from prison and under house arrest. Word on the street is that he wasn't some violent criminal or such. He got wrapped up with the wrong people and rumors say he may have helped in some burglaries etc. I've met him a few times. And the first thing he always says when he's meeting you is, "I got in some big trouble a while back". He's humble. I admire that.

Ted doesn't drive. His mother does. So she's basically his transportation.

Ted doesn't work (that I know of). He rarely leaves the house. So I'm guessing his mother is basically his livlihood and lifeline.

Over the last few nights Ted and the Mackey's from across the street asked for my assistance in helping Mary off the floor as she's fallen or needs help off the toilet. She's fallen like six or seven times in the last week. Amazingly, she's not injured other than a minor bruise or two.

Faye Mackey offered to contact Adult Protective Services as she has a friend who works there. The Bailey's seemed responsive to that idea which shocked me since I'm use to Obi-Wan who has used every last ounce of strength fighting for his independence. APS is usually the last step before an elderly person without responsible children ends up in a care home.

If that happens I wonder what will become of Ted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

pruning boy: deja vu

In a bizarre mix of my current work life and my former work life, the jedi master along with Chuckie and myself are doing some work for my old boss at Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc. I of course helped land the job, so it wasn't like he randomly picked us out of the phone book or something.

But it's really weird going back to the north side dynasty and doing some piddly-ass repetitive job (like scraping the exterior of a house for paint prep) on one of The Son's five properties.

Something about this mixture of mundane labor and being at The Son's north side dynasty put's me both in The Zen AND makes me realize how bad I want an assignment transfer from headquarters.

The transfer will come in due time I'm sure. I just never thought I'd be back at The Son's doing some goof job. So it goes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

return of the king

As the days, months, and years pass I am amazed at how many people I forgot from the old izzy group ministry days. Tons of people passed through our food pantry doors.

I was visiting Obi-Wan at the hospital last month when a hospital nurse came in to check his blood sugar. She knew me. I had no idea who she was. But she said she and her kids use to come to izzy and get groceries several years ago when she was a hurting single mom. Now she’s got her nursing degree and works at the hospital and thanks the CEO that all is well.

I am thankful that the CEO of the universe occasionally lets me see “the rest of the story” from those days. Even if I don’t remember certain people.

But there is one person from those days I will never forget. We shared too many memories together.

Momo, the king of the streets in the fair mother city, was sleeping on one of the cushy chairs in a Starbucks this weekend when I ran into him.

Agent Offspring #2 and I were getting groceries at HEB and decided to get a treat at the nearby coffee joint since my mailman mother gave us something like $105 in starbucks gift cards from her customers. She doesn’t like going there. I don’t mind it. Especially if it’s free.

This was kind of a weird place to run into Momo, since this area of town is way off the beaten path for our homeless friends. But Momo always gets around. I saw him camped out at the mall parking lot once. And that’s WAY off the beaten path.

We chatted for a good while. Actually, Momo rambled on and on with a bunch of homeless mental ramblings and so forth. But I didn’t mind. We all need to be heard and he doesn’t get much of a chance to talk to people. He’s so damn scary looking.

Nothing significant was said or exchanged. But I always forget how much I miss him. Even if he did use to piss me off.

One of my favorite Momo memories was once I ran into him downtown panhandling by the post office. His panhandling approach is terrible. Most homeless guys play the role of the lovable fuzzy tramp looking for something to eat and “god blessin ya” every second. Momo’s approach is to scare the hell out of you.

He’s short, fat, dark, wears the same clothes with stains for weeks until they fall off, and has that psycho pissed-off look in his eye. With his butt crack and gut hanging out he sleeps on a sidewalk like a beached whale. Then when some sucker walks by, he gets up and corners them and gives a direct demand for a buck. It’s such a crock schtick. I’m laughing.

So anyway, I see him do this one day as I’m going to the PO and I yell, “Hey Momo!” like I’m his best friend. Because we are friends. And I give him a hug like I always do.

He just froze with a smirk on his face that said “you’re giving away my schtick. Don’t let on that I’m really a cream puff”.

Thank you CEO for my run in with an old friend.

Long live the king.

Monday, February 02, 2009

dichotomy: two local tragedies

#1 - A family lost everything, including their mother here. One of the seven-year old twin boys isn't expected to make it either.

This family lives right across the street from my old boss with Son and Dad Tree Service, Inc. Every morning I would see this family when I arrived to work. They had all the mannerisms and trademarks of the poverty culture, including hanging outside in the front yard at all times of the day and enjoying life. The dad was a truck driver, I think. I waved to them and talked briefly once or twice. My heart breaks.

#2 - One of the old money social clubs in town is about to spend one million dollars on high definition broadcasting equipment. Which is even more pathetic since none of the local stations has complete HD technology yet to broadcast their church service to the capacity of the church's soon-to-be new equipment. Sheesh.

A poor family lost everything including their wife and mother.

And a mere 14 blocks away god's people toss big bucks at the trivial.

Forgive us all lord.

*photo credit by Ronald W. Erdrich.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


It’s been a few years or so since I’ve reported on my absence from the sunday morning social club. I believe that my avoidance of this topic proves my confidence in my calling outside of that scene. Thus I don’t feel a need to prove something to others thus proving something to myself.

Despite popular belief, I, agent b, am not opposed to other’s membership of these clubs. Nor am I opposed to the possibility of being part of one myself again someday.

What I am opposed to is attendance. Or better yet – I am opposed to attendance becoming the calling as opposed to living the calling.

Or something like that.

So Agent Wife and I have children. Three, as of almost three weeks ago. And yes, we incorporate our agent calling “outside church walls” into our children’s life. Since our marriage ten years ago (pre-kid days) we discussed how to raise our kids to know the CEO and not just drag them to some sunday morning deal. We wanted to live the experience of this kingdom of god, not just talk about it and naval gaze while someone else taught our kids about god.

So anyway, last weekend both grandmothers were here: my mom and Agent Wife’s mom. Sunday morning they were getting ready to “go to church” together while I was going to visit Obi-Wan and Agent Wife was tending to our newborn.

So then, my oldest mentioned that he wanted to go with his grandmothers. So I suggest to the grandmothers that if they want to take them, I’ll get the older kids dressed and ready to go. They were downright giddy about this, as can be expected by grandmothers.

So later on that day one of the grandmothers mentions to us that if we wanted, we could send our kids to church via our neighbors The Mackeys (who go to the church they visited).

How are we supposed to take that? Are we some sort of deadbeat parental sloths by not taking our kids to church?

No one noticed that our kids knew the songs they sang at church...because Agent Wife taught these songs to them at home!

OK. Sorry. I’m getting a little defensive. Such is being an agent and dealing with family.

But my question: what is better – teaching your children about attendance? Or trying to live the faith?

Or something like that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

legless in the fair mother city

My across the street neighbor, long time confidant, and zen mower mechanic Obi-Wan has returned to the neighborhood. He has been in the hospital since November having his last and only leg removed, recovering, rehab-ing and bitching about hospital food.

I admit, I'm glad he's back. This undisclosed neighborhood we call home is a lonely place without him.

He arrived yesterday with The Acid Queen's help. She arrived a day early to let the medical supply people move in his new hospital bed with the trapeze bar.

I noticed Obi-Wan's real bed, purchased three years ago during the legendary Nurse Gollum scandal of '06, was no longer in the house. I assume it made it's way back with The Acid Queen. I didn't ask.

He's glad to be home. And so are we.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

jail bird

My next door neighbor The Bulldog has finally gone to jail for some crimes he was involved in about a year and a half ago. His mom Frieda says he'll be in for 18 months. I guess that means he'll be transferred to a state run unit since the county jail only holds people a maximum of 12 months.

He's been headed for this life for a long time. His brother The Tiger is not far behind. He will soon begin his jail time for his involvement in the same crimes.

I guess this means I won't have gangster types driving and stopping by next door at all times of the day.

The Bulldog...he really has a sweet heart. But he's a rough dude. He has no direction. He doesn't want to do anything with himself.

Frieda thinks he'll do OK in jail, but The Tiger won't survive well. She knows her kids well, I guess.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

birth announcement

Agent Offspring #3 successfully joined us in this world today.

Agent Wife and baby are well...

Monday, January 19, 2009

jedi padawan #005: completion

Last week the Jedi Master, Chuckie, and myself completed my first ever house flip venture from start to finish.

I really enjoyed this, every aspect of it. The whole transformation process is fun.

This particular project went smoothly from all perceived angles. I'm not holding my breath for this to be the norm from here on out. But we were fairly under budget in every category. We found deals everywhere. Even places we weren't looking for deals.

We even got to incorporate the locals. The guy who lived next door lays flooring for a living. He did a few jobs for us which saved us valuable time. Even his 6 year-old kid helped me plant the flower beds.

Anyway, today we started a remodel job for a customer. I much prefer house flips: no one staring over your shoulder and such.

Kitchen: BEFORE (Nov 14, 2008)

Kitchen: AFTER (Jan 14, 2009)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Secret Agent B!

I, agent wife, have a confession to make. I hired out another secret agent to hijack agent B's blog and publish the following post on agent B's birthday. I had to incorporate another field agent in the event that I am in labor or at the hospital the day I wanted this posted. I wrote this a week in advance, knowing that we could be rushing away to have our third child any day now or a couple of weeks from now- heaven forbid- ha,ha.
Happy Birthday Agent B!

I am so thankful for this man in my life. He really is a gift from the CEO.

I wasn't boy crazy growing up and never dated through high school, but at some point knew that I wanted a husband, so I prayed for one and prayed specifically. Since I am tall, I asked for someone my height or taller. Since I always thought my dad and siblings had far more interesting coloring than I did (I have brown hair, eyes and skin), I asked that my husband would look more multi-colored like them in physical appearance and I asked that the CEO would give me someone who would be a strong Christian- like a preacher or elder or someone of that spiritual depth and maturity.

Agent B is exactly my height (we've measured), his coloring is more similar to my dad's than my own brother's is and he is the strong Christ follower that I asked for, but never imagined.

Being very religious and performance, type A personality that our society and the institutional church loves, I imagined the same in a husband. Agent B is none of those. If anything he is the opposite. This baffled me some and at times still causes friction. Performance christianity and status quo are comfortable, easy and falsely satisfying. I fed on it for many years, but agent B has introduced me to realness, humility, real relationships, listening to others and loving more than my reflection or religiosity.

Where I and so many other church members saw the performing religious man as being the strong Christian, the CEO sees the heart. Where I studied missions and then went into ministry with all my religious garb (that I was taught to ditch), Agent B lived it naturally. I created bible groups called "friends", while Agent B was a friend. I scheduled people in, while he hung out. I most often have an agenda, while he most often has love.

I'm so glad the CEO is smarter than I am and gave me the desires of my heart, even though I didn't really know who that was. I'm so glad I obeyed and married someone I hardly knew because the CEO said to, even though I had an inkling this man did not fit my preconceived notion of a "strong Christian" as we entered our very short engagement and planned our lives together. I'm so glad that agent B has been patient with me, understanding and a sharpening agent in my spiritual life. He has and is helping me to become real, transparent and truly love the CEO, His ways and those He puts in our lives instead of the appearance of religiosity, performance and the cheap thrills that commercialized club members have found so appealing and (falsely) fulfilling. We read blogs and are being exposed to ideas that are "revolutionary" in Christian living and at each point, I have two reactions- the Lover within me cries out- "yes!!! this is true kingdom life" and the other part is "this is the agent life".

I also love how agent B and I are enjoying growing older. I know it sounds weird in our youth centered society, but we are finding great delight in growing in experience and maturity and building up a wealth of memories and relationships together. It's really pretty awesome!

Happy Birthday Agent B! from your greatest fans-- agent wife and kids

May our adventure continue with the grace, direction and love of the CEO. May He bless your socks off this year and bring us into greater depth in Him and in all that He has for us.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

new library

Something really positive happened within blocks of our neighborhood. The fair mother city opened a new library.

This is beyond amazing for several reasons. 1) A local non-prof (“Friends of the fair mother city library”) did their own funding to make everything it happen including the payroll for new employees, etc. So unbelievably, Tax payers won’t be billed for this, not that I would mind doing so. 2) The city counsel and hoopla gallery created little if any red tape for this library to exist. It literally was OKed and built within months. 3) They put this branch on the city’s north side (traditionally the old side of town thus, “poor” side). And finally 4) the new library is in the run-down vacant shopping center two blocks from my house.

That in and of itself is amazing. This shopping center has eleven store fronts, but only three are occupied: two dollar stores and a bingo hall. There’s also a discount pizza chain and our bank. But the bank is closing that branch in March. I’m not pleased with that at all.

But now there is something positive and possibly life giving: a brand new library.

My entire family and I were present for the grand opening complete with 500 others, a circus hoopla, shucking and jiving city politicians, a clown looking like Minnie Pearl, and a juggler who dropped an egg on the new carpet.

I love jugglers. I can juggle, a little.

I raise my mug of hot mint tea to all those who made this library possible. Thank you for bringing something excellent to our forgotten corner of the fair mother city.

Monday, January 05, 2009

the temple of mammon

During the brief three and a half year history of the agent b files, we’ve been very militant about posting reports strictly on the happenings of and around agent b. No frills or fluff. Except for that one time Christmas greeting of the Star Wars Holiday Special in just five minutes. Oh man, I am so funny.

But generally, we try to stick to the mission here and not follow whatever is fab in blogland.

Yet for the last few years, my disdain for consumerism and stuff has grown as rapid as my interest in social justice. Why should I have the vast availability of cheep shit to buy if it means raping the world? Or something like that.

And for crying out loud. The texts I read about my god claimed he had little or nothing when he walked the earth with us.

Admittedly, I use to mildly defend Wal-Mart and similar places. I figured if you are going to boycott Wal-Mart, then you’ll have to boycott everyone. Because they all carry the same slave labored crap made in China and Bangladesh. Just because Wally is the biggest target doesn’t mean the little guys should get off the hook.

I admire brother Shane and co since they go the extreme to make their own clothes and such. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to that point. But all last year I bought clothes from Goodwill. And it was fun. I figured second hand is second best to making your own.

Also – as a field agent embedded within the poverty culture, I figured since the local poor folks go to Wal-Mart, then so should I. Why should I act more uppity than my friends?

But the poor drink sodas like no tomorrow. And I’ve barely drank sodas since 1994. So there blows that logic. And if the poor were going to jump off a cliff I probably shouldn’t follow. Or something like that.

Bottom line: I am not a fan of our nation’s consumer culture. I’m quite vocal against our fat-ass whiney babyness. I refuse to bow to the god of convenience and the god of entitlement.

After September 11, 2001, our president addressed the nation and suggested we all go shopping as a means to help the country. Like people who hide their deep seated issues with spending money or eating or drug doing.


I try to buy as little as possible. And when I do spend, I prefer local business owners who offer various services and give back to the locals. Blah blah blah.

I’m not militant or preachy about all this. But I am more serious than before. Since I was born and raised in a consumer society, I figure this anti-consumerism lifestyle seems the best way to subversively live the gospel within this culture.

But my primary reason for sharing all of this...

Since about 2006 or so Agent Wife and I have received dozens of Wal-Mart gift cards. Christmas gifts, random thank yous, whatever. $25, $50, $100. Even a $150 once

We are thankful and don’t want to complain. I’d REALLY like to avoid Wal-Mart all together. Forever. But we can’t. Because we keep getting this damn currency for the temple of mammon.

I don't know what to make of this. Lord god, help me.

* If you have 20 minutes and can stomach the peppy narrator and her mentions of global warming and toxic breast milk, the story of stuff makes a good classroom-type lesson of our consumeristic godlessness.