1) Must have had dozens of inquiries this past weekend about the Westboro Baptist "Church", and why in the world they'd protest at military funerals. If you have an hour, and want a fascinating look at these folks, feel free to click on the picture below. There, you can watch a great documentary (entitled "The Most Hated Family In America") done by Louis Theroux, who works as an investigative video journalist for the BBC. Louis actually was given full access to the family, living and talking with them over the course of a number of days. Why was he allowed by the "church" to do so? Apparently they live by the adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Here's the video report (it lasts about an hour):
2) Great Ad Board meeting tonight. We're getting things done as a church, and moving forward slowly but surely. Charlotte will have 12 new Home Fellowship groups (groups that get together to pray, discuss scripture, help one another, serve others, and do life together) going in the coming year. The youth ministry is really taking giant steps forward right now as more adults get on-board helping Leigh reach teens, and youth are challenged to think about taking responsibility for their own faith. Children's ministry numbers continue to grow and grow and grow. The building is being used almost constantly by a variety of in-house and community groups. The new fall women's bible studies are doing excellently. Fall Fest is coming up this week, and we've already got scores of new volunteers and lots of new financial support.
It's just going better than I ever could have expected... thus far. I just keep praying, and wondering what is next.
3) Our series, Jesus In The Suburbs, is now complete, and I am shocked at the number of folks who loved the series. We must have hit people where they live cause there are lot of folks talking about what they heard. Eugene Paik reminded me that the job of a pastor was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and I hope we were able to accomplish that as we challenged people to quit living lives of "passive safety"... that is, just trying to isolate themselves from the needs of the world in a bubble of comfort, hoping that bad things won't happen to them. Our world is filled with too much misery, and too much opportunity, for us to just stick close to home, only venturing forth to a lake house or an all-encompassing resort, while on streets with no names, Christ awaits our presence. Cool stuff.
4) What a crazy weekend in college football. Half of the "Top Ten" teams lost (including the Florida Gators, setting off much rejoicing among Buckeyes and all who love the Big Ten), and now you have teams like South Florida and Kentucky (looks like our classmate, Gordon Griffin, was right.... Kentucky football is on the rise) in the new Top Ten. That and Notre Dame is 0-5. 0-5 and getting lambasted by the talking heads on ESPN and other sports outlets who claim that Weis' new recruits aren't as talented as the guys Ty Willingham recruited onto campus. People are even openly wondering if ND might lose to the service academies. What a strange, strange year.
5) According to this article, things don't look good for Isiah Thomas, the Knicks GM who is being sued by a former employee for sexual harassment. The trial is just icing on the cake for the James Dolan/Isiah Thomas era which has pretty much decimated the once proud franchise. Bill Simmons (ESPN's "Sports Guy") wrote a "Guide To the Isiah Thomas Trial" that details all of the major points of this fiasco. Considering the NBA needs strong franchises in the cities with huge TV markets where basketball really matters - Boston, Philly, LA, and New York - don't be surprised if somehow David Stern steps in to help move along matters with Knicks (i.e. make sure Thomas is out of town faster than you can say "I will personally make sure you will get the top draft picks three out of the next five years if you tell Isiah to 'not let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya'". The NBA is already in freefall when it comes to mattering as the third largest sport in the country, and on its way to only being seen on the Versus network. Here's hoping Stern can right the ship with the Knicks, and the league in general.
6) Rumors are that Paris Hilton wants to use her celebrity status to bring attention to real humanitarian issues, and she's starting this endeavor by traveling to Rwanda. If you don't know much about Rwanda, all you need to know is that AIDS and ongoing battle between rival tribes pretty much keeps the country living in some vestige of the Bronze age. I have no idea how in the world Paris Hilton drawing paparazzi to this corner of the world will change anything... but then again, maybe its time the woman did more than look pretty and go to parties. So I say, more power to you Paris. Here's hoping the religious epiphany you said you had while in jail will lead you truly to new life... and maybe a new life for others. I mean, stranger things have happened... haven't they?
7) We're coming off ten straight days of sickness at our house. Stomach flu, colds, fevers, aches, pains... we've all had em, and its wearing us out. Fortunately, it seems Eli is slowly getting over the last whatever it is he has (he's been battling a high fever), and both boys were finally back in school today. You just don't realize how much of a blessing good health is until you're doing laundry at 3:30am while being virtually unable to get the smell of semi-digested pizza out of your mind's nose.
8) Later this week I will attempt to put up a recent sermon on this blogsite for your listening pleasure. It'll just be an experiment in seeing what we'll need to do to begin podcasting our sermons on our own site, but an exciting experiment all the same. Slowly we move into the 21st Century.
9) Ten things are too many things to think... that's what I think.
10) And finally, there's a fascinating series in the New York Times right now that's focused on the issues facing Chinese officials and business people related to the ever-expanding Chinese economy. This latest installment takes a look at the looming ecological crisis (in this case, drinking water) as hundreds of thousands of people relocate to urban centers unprepared to provide the kind of infrastructure needed to accommodate all the basic needs required by growing numbers of human beings. Rapid growth means nothing if streets become overly congested, sewage can't be treated, garbage can't be adequately collected, food can't be distributed, and no potable drinking water is available. The ecological short-cuts that China is taking in order to get a leg up on the world were some of the same ones we took in the US (and in the West, in general) to be able to progress industrially. But the magnitude and scale of growth in China is many times over what it was in, say, Cleveland in the 19th century. Take the Cuyahoga River catching fire (or as Randy Newman sang during the opening credits of the movie "Major League", "burn on big river... burn on") and multiply it many times over, and you have the situation the Chinese are facing in terms of environmental issues as it taxes its natural resources to keep up with doubled-digit growth and a population of billions. The "greening" of emerging nations will present unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs and engineers.
I'm telling you folks.... now is the greatest time in the history of the world to be alive. The problems are massive, but the opportunity is unlimited.
Anyhow, it was a good article. Hope you enjoy it.