Quick–what was your first job? Mine was entering credit card applications into a bank database. I remember becoming fairly nimble with the numeric keypad, but I left each day feeling as if I’d had a small section of my brain excised; the monotony was mind-numbing. Fortunately my supervisor liked the sound of my voice and thought it could convince anyone to buy something. So I was soon “promoted” to the rank of telemarketer (Deus misereatur) selling some sort of subscription to veterinary offices. Following that I remember working for a putt-putt golf spot near my home in West Houston. Ringing up rounds, scooping up ice cream, and cleaning up bathrooms comprised the work–all with the expectation that I’d keep pristine throughout the shift my white cabana shirt and khaki shorts. I look back at those early days of formal employment with both gratitude that they’re in the past but also for what they taught me about responsibility.
Why do we work? Why fill our days with tasks, appointments, projects and reports, and then return home either trying to leave it behind or to keep it ever before us? Aside from the more obvious purposes to our labors–means for a living, fulfillment in the use of aptitudes, militating against boredom–does work appeal to anything higher than the purely utilitarian? Read more
Last Sunday during Q&A I felt moved to share just a tidbit from a post author Anne Lamott had written in the wake of Robin Williams’ death. It turns out she’d grown up with him in California. If you’ve read any of her story you know she can deeply identify with what harried and haunted–and then consumed–her friend Robin. So I thought her lamentful but staunchly hopeful words were worth sharing in full. You might disagree with some of her appraisals. Maybe I do, too. But what she says of compassion obliges consideration. Read more
Before the war he’d sold lacquerware and fancied tailored American-made suits. When his emperor declared war on those same Americans in 1941, Hiroo Onoda was tapped as an intelligence officer on the Philippines’ archipelagic island of Lubang, and assigned to the command of Major Yoshimi Taniguchi.
It was Taniguchi who waited under a tent for Onoda on a typically sunlit day in March, not to dispatch him on another reconnoiter of the area, but to request that his subordinate surrender his weapons. For on that day, Onoda was to acknowledge formally the end of combat operations, just as his Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu had done previously aboard the USS Missouri with General MacArthur and 2700 American sailors looking on.
Except that Onoda was following this final order of his commanding officer on March 9, 1974–some thirty years after the Pacific campaign had come to a sobering end in the shadow of a mushroom cloud. Onoda, you see, had not learned of his country’s surrender to Allied forces in September, 1945, and therefore continued to gather intelligence, compose reports, and simply stay alive for three long, quiet decades. Even on that March day, Onoda wondered if the whole affair was only a ruse intended to trap him. Read more
We argued last Sunday from John’s gospel how the integrity of any given church depends in no small degree upon the love its members have for one another. Jesus, himself, identifies mutual love as the clearest indicator of His ongoing presence and interest in the world. He therefore marks love as essential to a church’s ongoing relevance in a world desperate to know that love is in fact real, and that it transcends time and space.
Anything that crucial to the church’s existence though will never be rooted deeply without necessitating profound changes to how the community operates. Love, as anyone who’s practiced it knows, demands more than one could ever anticipate. Love’s very nature implies the reconfiguration of much we hold dear. If we want to love we have to expect to change–even in domains we may have assumed needed no tinkering. Let me share two domains of church life for which the love Jesus spoke of in John 13 demands nothing short of a potentially unsettling shift in our thinking and practice. Apple carts that may need to be upset, if you will. Read more
They will be using Elizabeth George’s book Loving God with All Your Mind. Each week as they delve into scripture they will begin to work on what is real rather than worry about what is unreal, to reach forward and press on rather than remain a prisoner of the past, act on what is revealed in scripture rather than emotions.
The book has 6 parts, each centered around a Bible passage:
Training your thoughts: Philippians 4:8
Winning over worry: Matthew 6:34
Pressing for the prize: Philippians 3:13-14
Counting on God’s goodness: Romans 8:28
Living out God’s plan: Jeremiah 29:11
Accepting the unacceptable: Romans 11:33
Be watching for more information on times, places, and sign up.
There’s no setting disclosed at the beginning of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, but you soon find yourself in a 19th century colonial settlement nestled in the New England hinterlands. The hamlet’s inhabitants reflect the hearty industriousness and deep solidarity you’d expect to find in the time before grocery stores, police forces, and security cameras.
But the tension of the plot lies not in the “ordinary” challenges of pre-industrial life. Typical of Shyamalan’s preference for placing the sci-fi genre in new settings–this small commune we soon learn is surrounded by mysterious creatures who had at one time clashed with an earlier generation of the villagers. Only after a truce emerged did the two societies enter into a kind of covenant: so long as the villagers would not venture beyond an agreed-upon boundary, there would be no incursions by the outsiders.