Ten Things I Think I Think
1) I think that if you go to Shawnee UMC, or read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you'd better start reading Romans 12. Never will a church spend as much time on one piece of scripture as this one is going to in the next year. If you don't own a Bible, or own one with lots of "thees" or "thous" in it , go to www.crosswalk.com use any one of more than 30 versions. Enjoy!
2) Each of us are supposed to pick out a piece of Romans 12 that really sticks out for us, and try and figure out why it does. Here's what's captivated me (from "The Message:): "If you preach, just preach God's Message, do nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritate with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face."
I think that I'm stuck on this passage because if you summed it up in a phrase, it'd be Paul telling everyone in the Christian family, "Just git 'r dun". Don't think about getting it done, or talk about getting it done. Don't spend hours asking others how to get it done, or pick apart others who aren't getting their stuff done. Just git'r dun. With so much to get done around here, I think Larry the Cable Guy's tag line is becoming my new motto.
3) I think that if I were in some form of retail or the building trades here in Ohio, I'd be plowing some serious money in an anti-casino lobby right now. If you haven't been listening, the lobby on behalf of the large casino conglomerates are pushing hard to make a case that Ohio needs legalized gambling so that this money doesn't leave the state to casinos in Michigan, Indiana, or Kentucky. This is one of the most ludicrous arguments I've ever heard, as the casino operators profit whether you gamble here, or somewhere else. This isn't about keeping money in Ohio, it's about opening up new markets that can cut down on drive time to gamble. Nothing more and nothing less.
People who are going to Vegas, Atlantic City, or some other place known for gambling, are going there regardless of whether we have a casino in this state, as their trip is as much about getting out of town as it is anything else. Look at how fast Vegas (and until Hurricane Katrina, the Gulfshores/Biloxi area - did you see how many casinos were destroyed in that storm?) has grown as the number of casinos have rapidly grown around the country. It's just plain ignorant to say that people are traveling to gamble out of states that didn't have casinos, less now than they did before they got casinos. It just isn't happening. Instead, the total number of people who gamble on a regular basis, and the total amount of money that is gambled, continues to rise as the number of casinos rise. That means less money to buy cars... less money to refurbish homes... less money to spend at Macy's.... and yes, less money to go to charities (as of 2004, according to Gallup Polling, percentage of income given to all forms of charity, about 1.4%, was at all time low, a trend that has continued for more than a decade, including the 9/11 experience). These are discressionary dollars we're talking about... Service Sector Ohio, do you really want more competition for them right in your own backyard?
4) I think that a lot of people, including the Bucher family, are sorry to see the ice cream stands close for the winter.
5) I think that Matt Parish, a former parishoner (as a teen), and the now lead lyric writer for the band Ho-Ag (www.ho-ag.com) was great to respond to my challenge to the band to start using their influence to challenge those around them to think about the world differently. Matt claims that virtually every Ho-Ag song is about the way civilization is built on the backs on those powerless to defend themselves, (which he says, is also true environmentally, hence the title song for the album, "Pray For the Worms"), and the danger in doing this. Matt was always a smart kid. He'd be the one in Bible study that wouldn't say much, but when he did open his mouth would utter very profound words. His time at Boston University was time well spent, as his love for literature and writing has only grown over time. Now, through non-stop reading, thinking, and writing, Matt is starting to find his voice, and a unique, funny, important voice it is. Better keep your eye on him.
6) I think I told my wife I'd be home by 5pm and it's 5:06pm as I'm writing this, so I'd better hustle!
7) I think last night's episode of "Breaking Bonaduce" was just flabbergasting. Danny Bonaduce is a train-wreck, and its hard to watch him do the mind-job on his wife that he's doing in real time. His manipulation of his wife is done for no other reason as to convince her to stick around to take care of his children, and love him in ways we all need, as he destroys himself. And what's more, he's so deadly smart, that if he ever put his considerable abilities toward not only becoming the husband and father he says he wants to be, so many excellent by-products for society as a whole would be produced by him, that humanity would greatly benefit. Here's to hoping to another stint in rehab will help him get his life together.
8) I think Ben Witherington's "Paul's Narrative Through World", is helping me get a handle on the Epistles in way I never grasped before. Just a fascinating glimpse into the 1st century AD world.
9) I think that in the wake of Katrina, America will largely overlook the disaster that was a 7.6 earthquake in Pakistan. Makes you wonder... as more people are born into the life of this planet, and our population continues to grow, how much more devastating these disasters are going to be in the future. I mean, if 400,000 people live in a place where 200,000 people used to live, what's the probability that in the event of a natural calamity that there will be greater loss of human life? A huge engineering challenge is looming on the horizon.
10) If you are struggling with organized religion right now, please take a look at Brian McClaren's "A New Kind of Christian" trilogy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/103-0769982-9767832). It's three novels detailing the journey of a pastor that's struggling to help make sense of his faith, and his relationship with pastor-turned-science-teacher who has already made the "postmodern jump". The first book, "New Kind of Christian", might make you angry if you're a proponent of "Intellectual Design" theory, but it's good none-the-less. Have recommended it to many people over the past three years, and I can't tell you how many of them have thanked me for doing so. Just a good easy read