Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Season

When I was a kid I looked forward to the Christmas season. I loved the decorations, songs, lights, the anticipation, and the story. I looked forward to the mysterious packages under the tree and the temptation to guess what was inside. I looked forward to Christmas Eve and the feast that accompanied that day as part of our family tradition. I looked forward to going to church and singing Christmas Carols. Images of the baby Jesus lying in a manger as his proud parents looked over him.

That was then.

This is now.

Maybe it's my age. I don't know.

It has been said before and I'll say it again. This is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus not a time to celebrate capitalism.

It's not that I don't like giving or receiving gifts as part of the celebration or Santa Claus or snow and reindeer. I like to shop and buy and think of creative gifts for my loved ones as much as the next guy. But I don't want to do it starting in October. For some they get a sense of pride saying that they have their Christmas shopping done before Halloween. I say "who cares?".

It really hit me this year when I ran to the mall the day after Halloween and JC Penney's already had out their Christmas decorations. This set me on the path of darkness. I love Christmas, I love the season, but when it confronts me head on two months early I get weary.

I have a rule: No Christmas decorations, songs, cards, etc. until after Thanksgiving.

Sorry to rant, I had to get it off my chest. But we as a nation have lost the baby Jesus under a pile of ribbon and wrap. He is somewhere behind Santa and his little elfs, and rudolph and the snowman, and Clark Griswold and Ralphie and his Red Rider bb gun. Don't get me wrong I love those movies, but in reality they don't portray the true meaning of Christmas.

Christ's birth is no small matter. It should be celebrated with a big party. This birth was looked forward to, prophesied about, anticipated, and celebrated by those fortunate enough to be present and alert. Now it is hidden and forgotten. America's desire to boost our economy by promoting the holiday's gift giving aspect of the holiday has shadowed Christmas' true meaning.

All I'm saying is what also has been said a million times, put on bumper stickers, church signs, billboards, and sky writing; put Christ back in Christmas.

There I'm done.

Well sort of. My brother sent me this link. And I'll end with this addition to your Christmas cheer. Clark Griswold eat your heart out.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Life Experiences

Five years ago I came to believe in Christ’s teaching, and my life suddenly changed; I ceased to desire what I had previously desired, and began to desire what I formerly did not want. What had previously seemed to me good seemed evil, and what had seemed evil seemed good. It happened to me as it happens to a man who goes out on some business and on the way suddenly decides that the business is unnecessary and returns home. All that was on his right is now on his left, and all that was on his left is now on his right; his former wish to get as far as possible from home has changed into a wish to be as near as possible to it. The direction of my life and my desires became different and good and evil changed places…

I, like that thief on the cross, have believed Christ’s teaching and been saved. And this is no far-fetched comparison, but the closest expression of the condition of spiritual despair and horror at the problem of life and death in which I lived formerly, and of the condition of peace and happiness in which I am now. I, like the thief, knew that I had lived and was living badly… I, like the thief, knew that I was unhappy and suffering… I, like the thief to the cross, was nailed by some force to that life of suffering and evil. And as, after the meaningless sufferings and evils of life, the thief awaited the terrible darkness of death, so did I await the same thing.

In all this I was exactly like the thief, but the difference was that the thief was already dying, while I was still living. The thief might believe that his salvation lay there beyond the grave, but I could not be satisfied with that, because besides a life beyond the grave life still awaited me here. But I did not understand that life. It seemed to me terrible. And suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death.

- Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy, Leo, What I Believe, Introduction,
trans. Aylmenr Maude, in A Diary of Readings, ed. John Baillie (New York: Collier Books, 1955), 38.

I love to read things like this.

I firmly believe that Christians learn as much about their faith through the experiences of others as they do their own experiences.

The Bible is full of the life experiences of others for this very reason. We can look at the lives of those that lived before us and learn from their examples, their successes and failures, their experiences, etc. Job can teach us about immense faith and patience, David about success and failure and passion, Jesus about love and compassion, Noah and Moses about determination and perserverance, the twelve about following in faith, and on and on.

What story is God writing with my life?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Guilty Pleasure Reading

One of my favorite guilty pleasure readings are books by author Vince Flynn. I just finished his lastest installment of his Mitch Rapp series, "Consent to Kill", and loved it. Fast paced, action packed, with flecks of human emotion thrown in to make a quick read. Mr. Flynn has mastered the solo hero in Mitch Rapp. Don't skip ahead, start at the beginning. Start at "Term Limits" and move forward.

I am waiting for a movie series to be started. Thus far I've not pinned down my favorite pick for the lead actor but I'm working on it. Hopefully it won't be the lame brains who picked Morgan Freeman to play James Patterson's lead character Alex Cross.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving Thanks

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love
edures forever;
his faithfulness continues through
all generations.

~ Psalm 100 (NIV)

A reminder of where my thanks is to be given.

He has been so good to me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

No Work Today

Taking a day off to head up to my sister's house in Washington. It is a dual visit... one to spend some time with her family while they are close (they are a military family which moves every three years) and the other to hit Ikea. I have planned my son's room for a long time, now it is time to get it done.

Entries have been few lately. I will do my best to catch up. There are things going on, to many things, thus time to write has been short.

More to come.

Got to hit the road.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Calvin & Hobbes Redux

Read this.

See my post on 9/25/05.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Needs Game

Occasionally I run across "blog games" that are kind of fun. This is one of those.

Google "[your name] needs" and post the first 10 or so results... (make sure you include the quotation marks)

My name came up with the following:

  1. ...we haven't met Brian's needs yet.
  2. Brian needs food, badly
  3. Brian needs to communicate more effectively and stop being negative.
  4. Brian needs assistance
  5. Brian needs to learn to paint darker.
  6. Brian needs to adjust his tin foil hat - (this is my personal favorite)
  7. Brian-Needs-the-Money movie
  8. Brian needs a fix
  9. Brian needs to combine two or more site links
  10. Brian needs your help!!!
  11. Brian needs to take care
  12. ... Brian's needs and figure out what exactly is his learning disability.
  13. Brian needs both money and a job.
  14. Your brian needs upgrade - (obvious mispelling of brain)
  15. Brian needs to do a Gospel CD

Try yours...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bird Flu Zoo

Yesterday I heard that President Bush wants to set aside 7.1 Billion dollars to help with the possiblity of a bird flu pandemic. Newsweek reports on the potential cost of this disease. There are reports that the US could restrict travel. Bloomberg reports the threat may spur recommended vaccinations for all. And people all over the world are destroying birds.

Have any of these people promoting the pandemic consulted the CDC?

Exerpts from their website:

  • "The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person."
  • "The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds."
  • "The H5N1 virus does not usually infect humans."
  • "The current risk to Americans from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia is low."

Does this sound like something we should be setting aside 7.1 Billion dollars for?

I know that Disney is a powerful company and a major influence on our culture but is this all part of a promotion for their Chicken Little movie? I mean please, is the sky falling? Or is this a wacked way of spurning our economy? Anybody remember the SARS scare? What happened to that?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Talk Radio

For years I have listened to talk radio during my commute to and from work, both here and in LA. I felt that this was my way of connecting with the world outside my world.

Usually the morning consists of wacky morning DJ's or the local pop station. This would connect me with the pop culture and/or give me a shot of humor for the morning. The afternoon and evening drive would be Hugh Hewitt, or Michael Medved, or some other conservative rambling on about things that seemed bigger than me. I felt like this gave me a glimpse of the news of the day from a perspective I could trust.

This has come to an end. I am on a talk radio sabbatical. A break. The length of which is to be determined.

For years I have listened to the faceless voices provide endless hours of a jibber jabber of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions from their electronic milieu. After all this time I am starting to wonder where their ideas end and mine begin and visa versa.

The break began when I was listening to people arguing whether or not Miers should be considered a serious candidate for a position on the Supreme Court. I listened to both sides and didn't give a rip about what either side was saying. I found myself thinking that it was a waste of my time, my thoughts, my ears, to listen to these people prattle on about something that (as my mom would say) "in the light of eternity" wasn't a big thing.

I know, the Supreme Court is a big thing, it can change the way we live as Americans, it can overturn Roe v. Wade, etc. But, you know, one political leaning will out weigh the other for a while, then the tide will turn, and we have a new day. This is the way of things. If you listen to these shows you will have noticed that the name Miers has been replaced with Alito and all the chit-chat and rah-rahs are the same, they continue on undisturbed.

Over all the years I think I am becoming irritated that politics on the radio are so black and white. The republicans are right and the dems are wrong. Bush is great and Clinton is evil. Or as Air America may put it, Hillary is God and George is Satan. Nothing can be so clearly polarized. It reminds me of Psalm 33 that says:

"No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine."
Listening to the talk has made me think that there are a lot of people out there trusting in a horse. I am not trying to say that listening to talk radio is all bad and not to be heard, I am just saying that maybe I was to reliant on it and need a break. I was one trusting the horse. God doesn't want me to think in such a way, He wants me to listen to His heart, His way of thinking. He wants me to be concerned with the things that are important "in the light of eternity".
For now, silence, the comfort of prayer, my own thoughts, or one of my few hundred cd's will need to keep me company on my commute through the beautiful hills and pastures of the Willamette Valley.