Monday, March 30, 2009
I've read and digested Tolstoy, seen sunrises with my own eyes in distant lands, shook hands with a former President, and attempted to learn the metric system.
I know the strategic importance of Sun Tzu on and off the battlefield, the difference between effect and affect, the uselessness of calculus and Shakespearean quotes in everyday life, and how to change the oil in my own vehicle.
I've had gaping wounds stitched closed (never glued or taped), can start a fire with things found in my backyard, understand the true beauty in simplicity, and know the 1969 Woodstock festival actually took place in Bethel, New York...over 40 miles away from the town of Woodstock.
How could a teenager ever compete with such a reaching wealth of enlightenment? I beg to know how?!?! Yet teenagers, with no regard to humility or self preservation, often spew some of the most absurd, offensive statements know to come from even quasi-intelligent beings. In sure anti-hypothesis to Darwinism, teenagers have managed to dodge certain extinction at the hands of older, more cunning adults based exclusively on social and moral orders... a defining augment for Intelligent Design of our universe by a loving, merciful God.
I make reluctant apologies for my attitude today because I know I will continue to return to this place as sure as my next conversation...no, interaction...with a teenager (quite possibly my own). Conversation would imply thoughtful input by both parties.
(Maybe I should seriously rethink my rather bold statement circa 1982 about the promising career opportunities available attending Hamburger University...for McDonald's. Sorry mom and dad.)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I don't think you find any of this humorous if you've lost your job, house and/or life savings during the current economic crisis.
He comes across to me as 'in over his head'...but I'll continue to withhold opinion until the situation runs its course.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Who's Grayson Hugh? Song on my iPod. Have you heard of the Amazing Rhythm Aces? Original version of Third Rate Romance on my iPod. Do you remember Robbie Dupree? Squeeze? The Clash? Ronnie Milsap? The Manhattans? Pablo Cruise? They're all there. LTD or Hot Chocolate ring a bell...you sexy thing?
Now before all of you kids born during the Reagan administration or later stop reading, I've got plenty of music released on something other than vinyl too...even that catchy tune by Yael Naim from the Macbook commercial ...'I'm a new soul, I came to this strange world, Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take.' I really like songs with 'la la' or 'hey hey' in them...seems hip.
I sing in the car most days. I also keep a pair of drumsticks with quick access for good grooves or rolls coming up in a song. My thoughtful wife got me a new car stereo for Christmas that syncs with my iPod. Good stuff...keeps my hands free for drumming parts. I don't really embarrass easy, so singing and drumming doesn't cease when there's an audience...say at a red light or on the Interstate. The same principle applies when I sing in the choir at church. Can I sing? Doesn't matter...I do it anyway. Hey...make a joyful noise...the good Book doesn't say anything about melody. Sometimes, I sing while I play drums in our church Praise Team, but I don't do it often. The Music Director gets upset because sometimes I forget I'm the drummer...first and foremost.
Being a drummer draws me to different music styles to some degree. I make fun of the Bee Gees on this blog from time to time, yet the groove of Night Fever is mesmerizing to me...and hard to master. Although I'm not that fond of country music, it was Don William's son who helped me with the switch from guitar to drums while I was in college, so I feel somewhat obliged to keep some old school Nashville around...even though Don Jr. played classic rock in a college band. I also went to school with Marty Roe of Diamond Rio...great guy, great voice...but dances like the white guy he really is. (You young people probably need to google Don Williams)
Are we what we iPod? Hmmm...that's a pretty philosophical question that has great points on both sides of the debate. Music touches and affects everyone....good and bad. I don't think, as a Christian, it's a requirement for me to listen to only Christian music. Besides, it's a little difficult for me and the wife to...well...get 'to know each other' with Ray Boltz playing in the background. Okay, bad choice...let's say Mercy Me. Now Boyz II Men or James Ingram, on the other hand...bow chicka wow wow. I do subscribe to the 'garbage in, garbage out' method of parenting, so I don't want to come across a hypocrite either.
I was forever changed one day when I heard my high school football coach belting Maneater...Hall and Oates style...while he showered after football practice. Wow...now I need a mental Tic Tac.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I wear a couple of different hats around the office...like most type A personality workaholics. Often, I'm the 'go to' guy when there's a problem...which I like. I'm also the 'Jesus freak' of our group. I don't care for the 'freak' part too much because of the negative connotation associated with the word, but I definitely wear the title Christian or Jesus follower with humbled pride.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here's a funny cartoon I snagged along the way, and a vintage commercial inspired by Lulaville's posted commercial (another classic, although mine is much older...well...like me). I've got the teenager and toddler repeating the catch phrase from the commercial...I strive for cultured kids...even if it's pop culture. Bonus, there's lessons on economics and manners included.
Have a great weekend with worship services filled with the Holy Spirit!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The parking lot at the Tanger Outlet Center in the Great Smokey Mountains this past weekend.
A person would be hard pressed to find evidence of a recession where I was dragged to this past weekend. Okay, dragged may be too dramatic...with apologies to Mrs. Tony C Today. The family loaded up and made the 90 minute journey to the mecca of area shopping...Sevierville/Pigeon Forge. It doesn't take long after leaving I-40 at Exit 407 to figure out your thoughts of outstanding savings, at outlet pricing, on this day are neither original nor unique, as you sit bumper to bumper in traffic inching slowly closer to her...excuse me...your ultimate goal of over 100 brand name stores in one location. One location!
Let me predicate this post by stating I'm not a physical shopper. I'm a cyber-shopper. But, I love my wife, and she is very much a physical shopper. To her, Black Friday is an annual sporting event that requires both planning and preparation. She approaches the day after Thanksgiving with the same zeal and readiness as Hannibal did attacking the Roman Empire. So at her request, I came along for a Saturday of shopping with no pretenses...well...at least knowing I'd get to pick where we ate.
Packed. No parking. Stores thick with people...like ants on a dropped piece of Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. Crazy. I was neither in my element nor comfort zone.
After being pummeled by more seasoned shoppers in a few different stores, I posted up on a bench outside one of the wife's favorites knowing I'd get a lengthy respite. Again, the sheer amount of people was amazing. I could see across the parking lot a line formed outside the Coach store, which limits the number of people inside at a given time. I was close to completing a mental observation when the lady sitting on the same bench broke my train of thought:
'There's sure a lot of people here.'
TC- 'Yes ma'am, hard to see the recession here.'
'We're here from South Carolina. Just got my tax refund check back, so I came shopping with money from the IRS.'
TC-(chuckling) 'Well, it's actually your money, not the IRS's.'
Now, I know what you're thinking...why'd you have to go there? Folks, it's just who I am, and for that, I'm not apologizing...although at times I probably should.
'Yes, but it's money I was expecting or needing to pay bills and stuff. Kinda like free money.'
TC- 'Yes, but you could get that money sooner, in your paychecks, by adjusting your...'
Another lady interrupted.
'I got more back this year than last year. Good thing Obama got elected.'
TC-' But what does he have to do with...'
'Come to think of it, I got more back too.'
TC-'President Obama has nothing to do with 2008 income taxes. He was elected in...'
'All I know is I got more money back from the IRS than ever before.'
TC-'But it's your money!'
At this point, I knew my line of reason was falling on deaf ears. I allowed a comfortable amount of time to pass before giving my seat up to another lady who had just arrived to join the group.
TC-'You ladies enjoy Tennessee. Now, be sure to spend all your money here before you go back to South Carolina. We're still listed behind you in educational spending...you know...and need the money more here.' I stated trying to come across light-hearted and drawing a polite giggle from each.
As my wife exited a door pushing the stroller with the 13 year old in tow, I steered us in the direction of Harry and David's and met no resistance. We strolled around the sidewalk window shopping and talking at a leisurely pace. As we approached the Coach store, I kicked back into analytical mode.
'Look at the line outside of Coach. I'm not waiting that long to go in there,' said my wife.
'I'd love to look around, but no way I'd stand in line,' piped in the teenager.
Do what? Now, I'm thinking my wife has, at a minimum, a million or so purses or pocketbooks...whatever you call them, and the teenager has more than any 13 year old deserves or has necessity. But, I also wanted to keep my position of choosing to eat at Cracker Barrel...so I remained silent and avoided the argument...for the moment. The friendly confines of Cracker Barrel seemed a more logical choice for this brewing verbal joust.
As we approached the waiting Coach shoppers, the jubilant atmosphere of money spending drastically changed and became one akin to people waiting in line to eat at a soup kitchen. It was...eerie. Heads where down, people looked tired and detached...and yet, most of them were well-dressed, blue-blooded looking folks.
'I can't believe we're waiting in line to shop at a discount, designer handbag store. This is ridiculous. Hope people are happy with Obama now!' I overheard one lady fuming to another in the line.
I remained silent and didn't stop and remark...Harry and David's was just ahead. I really love those chocolate covered Bing cherries.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I'm afraid if it is the latter, I will be forced to change yet again...to the Libertarian Party.
Tony C Today
P.S. That very picture of President Reagan still proudly adorns my walls. I have more than one.
Monday, March 2, 2009
' I should have paid closer attention in Temporal Mechanics class at the Academy, Number 1. Just once...maybe we could avoid this kind of trouble!'
I took a trip back in time last night. No, I’m not flashing around through the time/space continuum like some of the characters on Lost or what seemed like every episode of Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation…my time travel was more an empathic journey back to a time in my life often referred to as the Dark Years in my writings.
After church services last evening, I was drawn to an open discussion among a group of 6 or 7 about the defined Biblical roles of women in the church. The discussion, however, took a drastic sharp turn when the central, commencing pperson began to question the validity of the Bible. The ‘If the Bible is written by man, and man is fallible…’ argument surfaced rather quickly and steered the exchange onto a completely different path.
My history with this person is fairly deep. I’ve known the young lady for most of her life, and I’m very good friends with her parents…best of friends. She is going through that period in life where, mostly as young adults, we begin to question things…seek answers on our own. I have a very healthy respect for this often troubling period in life. I could clearly see evidence of her internal strife…and it began to weigh very heavy on my heart.
Let me back up…I stated ‘mostly as young adults’…but that may not be accurate. There are a number of credible studies showing the drastic drop off in church attendance when young people get to a certain age, but I’m curious how the hypothesis applies to older adults in a period of spiritual struggle too. Today, there are far more sources of antagonistic information pertaining to Christianity. Some are subversive little digital invaders into our very homes. Although there are many, I believe one of the more inconspicuously dangerous sources in also one of the most popular…The History Channel.
(GASP)…’But I love The History Channel!’ Well, you’re not alone. Many Saturday afternoons have been served (or wasted depending on your point of view) by yours truly taking in several episodes of Modern Marvels or a Dogfights marathon. The shows I finding troubling, however, are the ones like Banned from the Bible, How the Earth was Made, and The Universe. There was also a lengthy fascination on The History Channel with The Da Vinci Code as well. The placement of these programs among shows of hard-fact, historical events lends a deceptive credence...though the shows are unfounded and opinionated.
For mature Christians rooted well in their faith, such shows rarely present a challenge, but for a person at a point of struggle in their spiritual walk… programs like these can be extremely undermining and dangerous. Yes…as Christians…we have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help with discernment, but never underestimate the power of our enemy. Satan is powerful and uses moments of insecurity to plant seeds of doubt. Seeds that can eventually grow and completely disrupt the balance in our personal spiritual garden…okay that metaphor was a little too much on the Zen-ish side…sorry.
Faith can be hard enough without the constant tug of the world wanting us ‘to come out and play.’ I called this young lady after we left church and offered her a few words of encouragement. ‘You are not alone in what you feel. Doubt is something all Christians experience. You will work through this and be a stronger Christian.’ All of these came out…as you would expect…but maybe a few you wouldn’t.
I encouraged her to go back and look at how the Bible was canonized in depth, the processes involved in translating the versions we have today, and even the events around the Protestant Reformation (she seems to be struggling with differences among church denominations too).
I also steered her away while she struggled from the New Age thought that ‘we can all be right’ and prosperity gospels like Olsteen and Dollar with their ‘little gods’ messages. I warned her of the dangers of websites and television programs that could either be misleading or just malicious in nature. ‘Know your source’…that might have been the best advice I gave…unfortunately, I found that one out the hard way on my own.
Please pray for my friend…but also for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with their faith. And thanks… to those of you who prayed for me… during my Dark Years. My love and appreciate for you could never be overstated or enough. God is so great.