- Service Worker. This one really makes me mad. People assume that because an individual's job is to serve another individual, that indicates a social hierarchy. I see service workers as hard-working, important parts of our world.
- Financial Distinctions. This is one of the hardest barriers to overcome. Money does create opportunity and comfort. However, it never means that a person is somehow superior to anyone else. If you have money, get over it. If you don't, don't worry about it.
- Social Superiority. Many people make distinctions based on education, ancestry, geographic region or some other meaningless measurement. There are thousands (millions?) of differences between people, none of those have anything to do with the value of one over another.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I loved Memento, in which the main character has no long-term memory. In essence, the entire movie goes backwards until we learn why he has lost his memory.
I loved Rope, in which Alfred Hitchcock made the whole movie in one room with only one "shot."
I love movies that experiment, that change things up. I want to be inspired and challenged.
But more important than this, I want to watch movies. And herein lies the problem. But thankfully there are several new ways to see movies that I am learning about. Let me share a few of them with you.
- The Movies Channel on YouTube. Wow! That was my first reaction to this little gem. On YouTube you can now watch full length movies for free (and legally). You need a high speed connection and the selection is not great, but it is growing. You can watch movies on your computer any day or time. Check out http://www.youtube.com/movies.
- The Red Box. This was completely new to me until this week. The Red Box is a vending machine that has popped up in many locations in the last few years. For $1 you can rent a DVD for 24 hours. Again, the selection is not the greatest, and it is not as convenient as finding a movie on your computer, but it is good... very good. You will need a credit or debit card to use the Red Box, and if you do not return you movie you will be charged late fees. But- one more bit of good news- you can return your movie to any Red Box. Find details and Red Box locations at http://www.redbox.com/home.aspx.
- Netflix. Some friends got me a Netflix subscription for my birthday. I may never go to another video store. Netflix is convenient. The movies come to my home. It is inexpensive. I spend less money for more movies. And the selection is great. I have been able to find every movie that I am interested in (so far). Netflix is simple. You pay a monthly fee for the number of movies you would like. I get two movies at a time for $13.99 monthly. I pick out the movies online and Netflix sends them to me. On Monday I returned Slumdog Millionaire, today I will receive Run, Fatboy, Run. I am a happy fatboy. Find Netflix at http://www.netflix.com.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I ran into one of my online "friends" at a restaurant. This friend had recently been on a vacation to a warm and sunny location. Upon returning home this person had posted pictures from the trip online. When I saw him in the restaurant I mentioned his vacation and commented that it appeared he had a good time. He was flabbergasted. He had no idea how I would know anything about his vacation. His vacation was online, but he and I were talking in the "real" world.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
As we continue our look into the practices of the Christian faith, or Spiritual Disciplines, we cannot avoid the importance of faith sharing. In its strictest form, faith sharing is simply telling another person about what you believe and why you believe it. There have been many programs developed through the years to help insecure believers share their faith in “easy” or more effective ways. This is usually a response to the desire that Christians have to be obedient to God without violating the wishes or comfort of others.
Faith sharing has often been called by other names; witnessing, testifying, evangelizing or preaching to others. All of these are viewed in a somewhat negative ways by many people. This negative image that faith sharing has developed, has further complicated the willingness of Christians to participate.
Usually faith sharing has been limited to verbal interactions between two or more people. We are witnessing when we are telling someone else about Jesus. Often these conversations are filled with debate or argumentative exchanges. We try to make a case for our beliefs and discredit the beliefs of others. Many times Christians come across as narrow-minded, bigoted and holier-than-thou. It is little wonder that witnessing has a bad name.
I am not against a rousing debate. It is important that Christians know and understand what we believe. However, we must be careful that our conversation is filled with grace and love, rather than vitriol and superiority. Make your case, but listen to the views of others as well.
Here are some suggestions for your faith-sharing endeavors:
- Focus on living a Christian life. It is really very simple. If you live consistently, day by day, as a follower of Jesus you will be sharing your faith. People will notice your consistency. In just a short time your friends and family members will begin to question why you live the way you do. This will open the door to conversations about Christ and will serve as an example for others.
- Make friends and develop relationships with people who are not Christians. By doing this you will discover that there are many opportunities to share your faith without the stress of a certain “approach,” or “conversation.”
- Pray for opportunities to share your faith. God loves this prayer. When we ask God to open these doors for us, he does. You will be amazed at how many people are waiting to hear what you believe.
- Look for opportunities to share your faith. There are many people that you encounter every day who are open to hearing about your faith. They are ready for what you have to say. Pay attention to the signals and talk about what God has done for you.
- Practice sharing your faith. You might want to write down a sample “testimony” and practice sharing it with a friend. Be prepared when the day comes.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I am not complaining about any of this. They are all important and necessary aspects of life, but there are things that I miss out on. There are decisions that must be made that I believe effect the quality of my life. For the most part, my love for music is not lost in this exchange. Music and be always present. There is a radio in the car. I have an Mp3 player. There is always background music. Always.
But there are other things that I feel I am missing out on.
- I miss reading books. Each day I have to make choices about reading. Unfortunately I cannot read everything that I want to. Some things get left out. For example, the daily newspaper seems essential to me, while a classic novel, although wonderful, get pushed aside.
- I miss seeing more movies. Sometimes I find myself selecting a video based on how short it is. If it is too long I cannot afford the time to watch it. I am afraid that I will end up only seeing less than stellar films in the trade-off.
- I miss relaxation. Relaxing takes time. Time is at a premium. I need more of both.
I am sure that I could think of more things I miss, and I am sure that I am not the only one who is caught in the throes of despair at the lack of time. I long for leisure. I long for time.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Because of all this our churches are struggling as well, but that is simply caused be the tightening of everyone's belts. Many people are cutting back on discretionary spending, and church is considered discretionary by a lot of people.
Even though the church is in trouble, it is the church that is called upon for help. People in need turn to Christians and the established churches for assistance when they are in need. There is a strong identification in most people's minds between the church and caring for the poor and hurting. This is a good thing.
Over the past six months I have received requests for assistance from people almost every week. People need food. They need help with rent money, light bills, gas bills. They need assistance finding a job. They just need help.
Unfortunately, churches are not in a very good position to help right now. Many in need understand this, but there ought to be something that Christians can do. We should be offering help, even when we think that we are out of resources.
- We should be offering emotional support. There are many people who need someone to talk to. They want to share their frustrations and fears. They are confused, lost, hurting and lonely. People with no income and no prospects for income are scared. Christians should be listening, sympathetic and supportive in every situation.
- We should be offering to meet educational needs. Lay offs are great times for people to increase their level of education. Churches should be offering GED courses, job training, job assistance and resources for learning.
- We should be offering physical support. The people who are working can help meet the needs of those who are not. One simple suggestion would be to get one extra bag of groceries at the supermarket. Give those extra items to someone in need. Many churches have food pantries that are depleted. Fill them up.
- We should be offering spiritual support. Hurting people are looking for answers and Christians have answers. Pray for people. Pray with people. Offer them Christ. Give them hope.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
- Why don't they serve water in restaurants anymore? In most places you have to ask for a glass of water. This should not be. I want water!
- Beans are a multi-sensory experience. They keep giving and giving.
- Why is it that bath towels are so absorbent? Really. How do they work?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
- Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash
- Crazy, Patsy Cline
- Respect, Aretha Franklin
- (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
- In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry
- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
These songs should not be performed by cover bands, karaoke wannabes or established commercial artists.
I am sure that there are more songs that should fit into this profile, but these are the most significant that come immediately to mind. Be on the lookout. Stop song poaching.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
- People who write letters to the editor are often idiots. If you have ever read the letters to the editor you know exactly the ones I mean. These are the same people who forward email that no one wants. They are filled with quotes from obscure philosophers or talk-radio hosts. The worst ones are "religious" in nature. They remind me what a terrible Christian I am if I do not write my Congressman about the 'cause of the week.'
- The letters to the editor are ineffectual. Because of my own response to the letters to the editor, I believe most other people read them with a grain of salt as well. Letters do not show any level of commitment or purpose. Usually they do not convince anyone of anything.
- The letters to the editor are too reactionary. In my local paper there is a tradition of non-profit groups sending long thank-you notes to the editor. This is a good and noble gesture. But most other letters are simply reactions to something else. People express their frustrations and fears in these letters and there is very little that is positive or productive.
- The letters to the editor tend to be too emotional. People are not really interested in how someone else feels. Oh sure, we will look at it, but it is a curiosity that does not rise above casual that causes us to pay attention.
- Letters to the editor are dismissed by nearly everyone. We read them, but we do not take them seriously. There is one exception to this rule: People who write letters to the editor do not dismiss letters to the editor.