Inner Dissonance (Bill Cosby, Tullian Tchividjian, and Me)

We make messes. We all do. We fail. We disappoint others, and even ourselves. We wreck havoc in our own lives, and in the lives of the people who look up to us. All of us do, to varying degrees. Some failures are subtle incidents of inappropriateness. Others are blaring… Continue reading

Aunt Berthie

This post is part of the June synchroblog “Hospitality.” Links to the other writers’ contributions will be posted when they become available. When you get married, you not only marry your wife or your husband, but you are also grafted into each other’s family, and their traditions. One of Patty’s… Continue reading

Don’t Let Anyone Should on You (Personal Version)

That’s what Elle Luna’s mother used to tell her. Elle is the author of the book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, a book I own, and will soon read. What does it mean when someone says, “You should…?” Let’s take a peek at what is implied by those words.… Continue reading

The Age of Goodbyes

Here is a copy of my column from Monday’s Kenosha News. I never thought about Leonard Nimoy dying, even after he was recently admitted to the hospital suffering from COPD at eighty-three years of age. He was Mr. Spock for Pete sake! As Mr. Spock, he just got cooler as… Continue reading

Race and Rudeness

It happened yesterday at the car wash: an unpleasant encounter. Oddly, the incident involved an employee, the guy who scrubs up your car as you enter and dries it off as you exit. I don’t normally use this car wash, because gas is more expensive at the adjoining gas station.… Continue reading

Implicit Prejudice

I first heard the term this morning on a radio show. It is a subconscious prejudice that is inadvertently expressed. The topic captures my attention for several reasons. I grew up being influenced by the accepted racism of my parents’ generation. As a pastor, I finally had my eyes opened… Continue reading

The Thing About Labels

Labels are good on cans, but bad when applied to people. Canned goods are simpler and purer than people. Tomatoes means tomatoes, and beans means beans. You are able to determine what is in the can by its label. When you get home from the grocery store, you can put… Continue reading

If I Were King

I would abolish political parties. The founding fathers warned against them. They polarize the nation and corrupt politicians who have tow the party line to get the funding necessary to win an election. I would allow legislators to organize around coalitions, permitting them to work together on a couple of… Continue reading

Noticing People

Living out your faith is not rocket science. You don’t need somebody to tell you to do it. You certainly don’t need an organization, or a program to be loving and caring toward people. You simply need to realize it’s up to you, and then, live your life with your… Continue reading

The Death of Truth

Truth is dead. Apparently, we don’t need it anymore. Instead, we contort what little we know about an incident to support our preconceived viewpoint. Our minds are made up before we even become fully aware of the facts. We speak up with great indignation, believing we are calling attention to… Continue reading

Don’t Tell Me What to Do

It has recently occurred to me that I am adverse to people telling me what to do. You may think I am just a rebellious, non-compliant, cranky old codger.  And you might be right, but I think there is something else at play here. I grew up with an abundance… Continue reading

Why Are Bars More Accepting than Churches?

John Donne was right, no man is an island. Even a casual reading of scripture reveals God’s heart for connection with us, and how he hardwired us for linking with other human beings. Relationships are probably the source of our greatest joys, and our greatest heartaches. But, if we isolate… Continue reading

Can We Even Talk About Racial Issues?

As I thought about this month’s topic which is focused on race, violence, and the need to talk about it, four really big issues came to mind. Working on them has to be part of a way forward that moves us away from violence and obliviousness toward understanding and action.… Continue reading

It’s Not Your Fault

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This post is part of the “Crash” synchroblog: Robin Williams Performances We Remember and Why. Twenty year-old Will Hunting (Damon) is an undiscovered mathematical genius who grew up being regularly beaten by his father. He too developed anger management issues and he had a way of torpedoing any serious relationship.… Continue reading

Heartbroken

People around the world have become a part of the community of the shocked and heartbroken, as they grapple with the death of the beloved, frenetic comedian and Academy Award-winning actor, Robin Williams. We all loved this guy, the comedic genius who made our heads spin, the actor who melted… Continue reading

Make Your Own Cheese

Here is my column from Monday’s Kenosha News. Being Wisconsin, I could have entitled this column “Make Your Own Beer,” but there is a fair chance you are already doing that. Or, I might have used the title “Make Your Own Sausage,” but nobody really wants to see sausage being made. So,… Continue reading

Grandpa

My mother’s dad was a six foot tall, straight-standing German, the first generation born in the U.S.  As a kid, I was fascinated by the fact that he served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in WWI, and once met General John J.“Black Jack” Pershing, the commander of U.S. forces in… Continue reading

Cash

Out of all of my favorite musicians, there is one artist that has a special place in my heart above all others. When I was a kid, Johnny Cash has reached the second peak of a career that that waxed and waned through six decades. In those days, Cash was… Continue reading

Beach Life

The Gulf of Mexico makes a great backyard, though it’s a lot different than life on the Wisconsin/Illinois border near the perpetual chill of Lake Michigan. Palm trees replaced maples. Sand, instead of grass was the new lawn. Lush tropical vegetation flushed, instead of evergreens, still half dead from the… Continue reading

What Changes Us?

To the best of my knowledge, there is no definitive answer to the question, “What changes our life for the better?” Here is what I know. People inspire people. Programs seldom ever do. I remember teachers who were passionate about their subject, and caring toward me, more than I remember… Continue reading

Cool / Not Cool

Let’s play “Cool / Not Cool.” Cool: Female Not Cool: Male Women are cool because they can do anything a man can do, and do it better. Men are not cool because they have repressed women for centuries. They are over-sexed buffoons, controlled by their physical urges. It has been… Continue reading

Forty Years

Forty years is a long time, especially, if you are living with me. Then, they’re like dog years. Somehow, Patty has put up with me all of these years. I don’t know how she has done it (You will have to ask her about that.) Anyway, tomorrow, we celebrate our fortieth… Continue reading

Muscatine

No, it is not an archaic type of firearm, a wine, or the latest fragrance; it is a town in eastern Iowa where I got a speeding ticket. Sure, I know, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t pay the fine.” Allow me to explain my displeasure in more detail.… Continue reading

Memorial Day Americana

Nothing says Memorial Day like noise, dirt, speed, heat, and cold. So the announcer proclaimed as the 900-horsepower winged sprint cars were being pushed onto the one-third-mile clay oval before a massive holiday weekend crowd of racing enthusiasts gathered at the county fairgrounds grandstand. It was sixty-seven degrees when the… Continue reading

Inspiration

It’s funny where it comes from. I am inspired by my ninety-one year old uncle that I love to visit when I am back in Missouri. To this day, he carries a bit of shrapnel in his leg from WWII that causes him some difficulty in walking. Yet, he finds… Continue reading

Impersonalization

Something is wrong, very wrong! Something is missing. It is making us stupid. It is stressing our relationships. It is creating a gaping hole in the middle of our culture. I see it every day. It’s in my face on the cable news networks as a Republican spokesperson and his… Continue reading

Eyes Wide Open

Sometimes life seems boring, dull, and frustrating, leaving us with only fantasies of escape to ease our mental anguish. Other times we are so caught up in the beauty, the fascination, and the inspiration of the moment that we completely forget about our pressing responsibilities and illusive dreams. The regular preoccupations no… Continue reading

Adventures in Assisting My Parents

Photo credit: Marcel Oosterwijk. Creative Commons My seventeen-day long trip to St. Joseph, Missouri was a packed full of things to be done for my folks…packing, moving, having a sale, closing out the old apartment, taking over their business affairs, unpacking, taking Dad to the hospital, countless trips between the old… Continue reading

Believable Lies

If you say something often enough, people will begin to believe it. If you pronounce it from a place of authority, it may be readily accepted. If it is artfully, passionately, and creatively communicated, it will eventually weave its way into culture as reality, no matter how faulty the logic… Continue reading

Crazy Times

Image by brizzle born and bred. Creative Commons. I was born right in the middle of the Baby Boom Generation (1946-1964). The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Cold War, The Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, student unrest, illicit drug… Continue reading

The Silent Generation

Millennials have been in the news a lot lately. Companies want to know how to market their products to this new, coming of age generation and employers want to know how to recruit and manage new talent that has a much different view of success. Anyway, this millennial frenzy got… Continue reading

Seeing the Big Picture

Cultural institutions are failing us miserably and that is causing a worldwide season of unrest. Corrupt governments that have been in power for decades are being toppled right and left. Protesters claiming to be the 99%, upset by the widening wealth gap, have “occupied” city centers around the world. Citizens… Continue reading

Two Great Ideas

Here are three quick observations about politics in America. We are obviously so polarized that we are paralyzed. Holding onto power is more important representing the people. There is a monumental lack of leadership and courage to lead the way to serious negotiation and resolution. Our two major political parties… Continue reading

Notes on Not Saving the World

This post is part of a synchroblog on Social Justice. There is a link list for the other contributions at the end of this post. Different Starting Places The pursuit of social justice is more than a feel good motivation for well-meaning people. It is a reflection of the fact… Continue reading

The Oblivious and the Extremist

This post is part of the September  Synchroblog, entitled, “Loving Nature: Is God Green?” Links to the other contributors articles are listed at the end of this post. The Oblivious I have some interesting mental images of how certain unnamed family members, friends, and neighbors have violated my environmental sensibilities. It’s… Continue reading

The Fair

Saturday, Patty and I hung out with prize hogs, bulls, rabbits, geese, goats, turkeys, and chickens (my personal favorite). Baby pigs vigorously tugged on their mommie for their dinner in front of amazed city folk who had little knowledge of the origins of their bacon. Chicks hatched before our very eyes.… Continue reading

What Can We Learn from Scandals?

The vast array of scandals we have experienced the last few months has captured my attention like it has for so many other Americans. Here is the scandal roundup; at least some of the bigger, more recent ones. Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford bested Elisabeth Colbert (sister of comedian… Continue reading

Was Jesus Political?

The Evangelical church became a political force in the eighties. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson began articulating a “Christian position” on issues of national interest. Interestingly, it was always the same as the Republican position. They began with moral issues, moved on to “family values”, and eventually had… Continue reading

What I have Learned from Octogenarians

I like senior citizens, perhaps because I am well on my way to becoming one. There are some ways in which I don’t like for people to act their age. Middle-aged people and older people that talk about their ailments and complain about taxes incessantly get on my nerves. But when… Continue reading

How to Become a Flasher

This month’s synchroblog theme is ordinary courage. Not to be confused with heroics, ordinary courage is the act of revealing our true heart. We usually call it vulnerability. The links to other posts on the topic are located at the end of this article. The most courageous thing we will… Continue reading

When Someone Dies

This is a book that hardly anybody wants to talk about. That alone makes it important. We don’t like talking about death or “having our affairs in order,” and we really don’t like delving into financial and personal business matters that involve the likes of the IRS. When Someone Dies… Continue reading

I Hate

Figuring out what really pisses you off and agitates you can be very insightful because our motivations and passions flow from our deepest irritants and frustrations. Here are a few of my least favorite things. (I can hear Julie Andrews in my head.) Church programs that ignore the individuals they supposedly… Continue reading

It’s Sunday!

Good Friday sucked. The original one was filled with brutality, torture, confusion, doubt, guilt, fear, and oppressive grief. My Good Friday began in a cemetery in a military chapel beside one of those massive fields with their row after row of tidy white grave markers of veterans. The seats in the… Continue reading

Benediction

“Dad” Lewis, the owner of the hardware store in town, does not have many weeks left. He is dying of lung cancer. He has always been a man of few words who was not known for his compassion.  His faithful wife is worn out and exhausted from taking care of… Continue reading

Donkeys and Elephants

Assumptions “It seems to me Democrats (Liberals) want to help people and Republicans (Conservatives) want to help people help themselves.” That’s how it was summed up by someone who was, I think, pretty wise. But when I am in a bad mood, it seems to me that liberals are paternalistic… Continue reading

Gun God

This post is part of the March Synchroblog: Guns and God. Links to the other posts are listed at the end the article. Abuse I am really tired of people trying to co-op God to support their political position. Guns and God do not go together. Gun control and God… Continue reading

Turning Pro

I am just now sending a book to the editor that should have been published by last October. There are some reasons for the delay, like, travel and other pressing events. But the main reason that it is not published is me. Honestly, sometimes I think it is crap. Sometimes,… Continue reading

John R. Hager

My Uncle Bob (John R. Hager) the oldest of my Dad’s four siblings, passed away last Friday. The “R” is for Robert and everyone called him “Bob.” I have only recently learned of some of the details his full life. After high school, he helped build a naval base in the… Continue reading

Cosmic Questions

Why is “customer service” so often the worse possible place on earth to receive decent service? Why are we allowing our technology to cause us to avoid having a real, live conversation with another human being? Why are the very best moments in life usually unplanned? Why is there such… Continue reading

Hate & Hypocrisy

For far, far too long, Christians, especially Evangelicals were known for what they were against. They were against abortion, homosexuality, and most anything that made them uncomfortable. Is killing unborn babies bad? Yes, it is. Is it unforgivable? Is it “the platform” for Christianity? No, on both accounts. Following Jesus… Continue reading