Monday, August 30, 2010

Water Slide Night

The annual Night of the Bizarre water slide was last night (thanks to Emmnanuel School of Religion and Doug Theobold). It looked like all were having a great time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Great Tastes

I meant to write about this last week, but never got around to doing it. Our family crossed one of "those" thresholds just over a week ago when we took Meghan to Milligan as an entering freshman.

Things were done in a first-rate fashion. Milligan had students (and some faculty) there helping new arrivals unload their cars and carry things into their new rooms. On Saturday night they held a matriculation service in which the new students signed their names into the entering class of 2010. It was all very nice. This picture is from Mark Peacock's blog (it's linked on the right side of this blog. He's an excellent photographer and a good guy. Definitely worth your time to jump over to his blog.).

Here are the students preparing to enter the building for the matriculation service.

Now to the story of the arrival. We placed Meghan's things in their new places. I did what little heavy-ish lifting was needed, then I left pretty quickly. I didn't want to drag the moment out.

There are different kinds of sadness in life. There are the overwhelming kinds with a deep and painful permanence. They do such damage that they take a long time to assimilate into our new ways of being.

The sadness of dropping a child off at college is not that kind of sadness. It's a natural order sadness. You experience it with the full knowledge that it's the best thing that can happen. You experience it with the full knowledge that countless numbers of people have been through this. You also realize that at that very moment there are people with much worse circumstances.

All of that sure knowledge, though, doesn't relieve the moment of its difficulty. It may not be the worst pain you'll ever feel, but it's still your pain.

All that's just to say, I didn't linger. I went home and left the setting up of the room to Cindy and Meghan. I stopped at the grocery on the way home to pick up supplies and as I passed through the cookie dough aisle I saw the dough with the little Reese's Cups in it. They looked really good. I bought the dough, went home, and gobbled down a couple chunks of it.

Cindy got home later and I asked her if she was sad. "Yup," she said, "but I stopped by Sonic and got a Reese's Blast." We both laughed. On Sunday we told Meghan about it.

The story isn't over yet.

When Meghan got back to her room on Sunday evening, her new roommate was sad that her parents had left to return home (many states away from Tennessee). In her sadness she walked over to their new mini-fridge, opened it, and offered Meghan a Reese's Cup from a small pile of individually wrapped Reese's.Who knew we would all be turning to chocolate and peanut butter? Some sadness needs counseling. Some sadness just needs two great tastes that taste great together.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sometimes a Great Notion

Have you ever had a really good idea ... that just didn't work?

PS: Special thanks to Herbie Miller for linking this video.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Must See Photos

The Grandview Youth had their Fall Kickoff at the lake this past Sunday. We had a good turnout. The annual kickoff at the lake is a popular event that Youth Minister Extraordinaire, Ryan Bader, hopes will carry over into the more serious moments of teaching.

This year Sam Vaughn took pictures. The first one (below) is my favorite. It is the picture of youth and just brings a smile to my face. The young man in the picture is from a family that has been visiting Grandview lately. His first name is Ryan.

Have you met high flying Jonah?

How about Cory?

Here's Ryan again.
He's not Joshin'.

Emma slides with smiles.

The whole gang.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Newspapers and Churches

In the late 80s I was a student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. The buzz in our journalism class was that something had to be done about newspapers. The world, some of our professors told us, was about to change and they feared newspapers would be left behind.

Their words seemed odd to me because we were meeting in Gannett Auditorium. Gannett was the publisher that had triumphantly introduced a national newspaper called "USA Today". Technology had finally risen to the point where a national newspaper could be printed and distributed overnight. It seemed to me that newspapers had arrived at a whole new level; but the new technology was about to throw a menacing monkey wrench into the machinery.

One professor, trying to embrace new fax (!) technology, believed one possibility for the future would be blank sheets of white plastic which news consumers would place in fax-like machines in their houses. Every morning the news/fax machine would print off a newspaper, cutting printers and paperboys out of distribution process. The white plastic could be washed at night and reused in the morning. When my professor floated that idea I thought it was cool, but I doubted that I (or most of the people I knew) would bother to wash ANYTHING every night. The idea turns out to have been too limited because technology would soon stick the fax machine in the basement with the typewriter and the adding machine.

I was listening to a podcast of the Tony Kornheiser Show recently. He was lamenting the fall of newspapers. Kornheiser used to be a columnist but now makes his living in the broadcast media. Anyone who listens to him knows his heart is still with print media, even though his wallet has migrated to broadcast. Kornheiser commented that more than a decade ago one of his bosses at the Washington Post refused to take the threat to newspapers seriously. The newspaper industry was too "fat and happy" to worry about the impending downward trend.

The news bosses are now wide awake to the collapse of newspapers under the weight of free and instantaneous news-like reports on the internet. The entire industry is wishing they had taken time to think more creatively about the future of newspapers while they had the luxury of greater cultural clout.

I suppose you knew I was about to bring this around to the church.

The church in America has been fat and happy for generations. We've lived with the "build it and they will come" mentality. We thought we could stand on the street corners and shout about truth. We thought people would overlook the anger in our faces because we had cornered the market on where to go when people looked for meaning in life. When people wanted to get married or buried they came to the church. When people wanted to raise good kids they endured the bother of Sunday morning worship and stewardship emphasis Sundays because they felt that it would be good for the family.

Christian prophets have been shouting about a cultural change that is marginalizing the church. They've protested that the church has been drifting in the lazy river instead of the River of Life. They've protested that the church has been inwardly focused, even in her attempts to be outwardly focused. The church has evangelized for God, but also for the sake of growing bigger and feeding its own overblown machinery.

The change has already happened in many areas of the country. If you look closely you can see it happening here in East Tennessee as well. We're in that spot where we will wish, in future years, that we had thought more creatively about how to be the church while we still had some cultural clout.

I'm not predicting the death of the church. I'm not into alarmism (alarmism will kill us all!). I'm simply predicting that we will regret our myopic habit of making life better within our walls without regard to the community in which we live. The church doesn't exist to make life better for its members (though that is a byproduct of doing church well). The church exists to be a sign of the reign of God according to the actions and life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The church exists to heal the community and to share the peace, grace, and justice of God--all as an act of worship to God. We don't share God as information alone, we share God in relationships that demand our time, our energy, our patience, our grace, our kindness, our long-suffering, our self control, and our love.

It's past time to think about how to do this right here in East Tennessee.