A favorite, inspirational video

So let us cut to the chase and view exactly what is going through my head and inspiring me to write.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, just going through the post-Christmas pre-New Year’s part of the year pondering the next.
Traditionally, we’re still going through the 12 days of Christmas.
Jesus’ birthday seemed even less spiritual this year despite repeated viewings of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and reading the nativity passage from the Gospel of Luke.
The holiday seems over and done with as the decorations come down and the gift wrap gets thrown out.
Trying to find ways to keep entertained, I’ve been watching classic movies I’ve missed such as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” on my new Kindle Fire.
Also re-reading “Spellsinger” as noted in my last blog entry. I’m sure I’ll write more about that next year.
A big thank you to my thoughtful roommates for the Kindle Fire gift.
Haven’t figured out how to text or write effectively on the Kindle yet, though.
Any movie suggestions welcome.
Will probably watch “The Hustler” next as it is considered a classic.
I’ll go out with a new video that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed thanks to Zooey Deschanel.

Zooey, I’m free but would need a babysitter for my daughter if you’re thinking about Times Square.

15th Randomly Boring Fact: I’m open, sort of… especially to a Pretenders song

This 15th random fact – my “Openness” – comes from numbers 14-19 that I ripped off eHarmony in the way of character traits. Whoever set up the testing and responses at eHarmony really doesn’t want to offend – just check out how affirming they are in talking about me. I’d like to date them, but of course I can’t because of my still-married-pending-divorce status.

Despite sharing another fact that sharing self-examination results with other has become a boring task for me and probably even more boring reading for any reader stickin with me, I’ll proceed while poking fun at myself.

2: Introduction to Openness

How firmly committed are you to the ideas and beliefs that govern your thinking and guide your behavior? Some people trust their current ideas and beliefs the way a climber trusts the mountain; whichever way they move, whether the climb is on a familiar trail or over new ground, there is something solid beneath them, something they count on.

This is not meant sarcastically, but anytime I see or hear the word “solid” the old gospel tune “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” goes through my head.

For others, new ideas, new solutions to old problems, new beliefs that replace tired convictions are like welcome wind in their sails. They can hardly wait to tack in a new direction and ride a new idea through uncharted waters. If it’s new, it’s interesting, and they’re ready to explore.

This is what drove me to become a journalist and write stories like one about a farmer who made goat’s milk soap. I enjoyed writing features and “News of the Weird” items more than anything.

The following paragraphs describe your responses to new ways of thinking and believing. How do you handle new information? Are you more like the climber on a familiar mountain or a sailor with a tiller in hand and a fresh breeze to propel you? How you integrate and process new information about the world and about others is a core aspect of your personality.

On the Openness Dimension you are:

SOMETIMES CURIOUS, SOMETIMES CONTENT

Sometimes straight, sometimes bent

Words that describe you:
Accepting
Flexible
Educated
Self-aware
Middle-of-the-road

What? They put me in the middle of the road because of my tendency to go to extremes. The mean. The average. Not me.

And we have to interrupt this blog to throw in the tune hugging my head’s insides…

“Middle of the Road” – Pretenders

THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

IS TRYING TO FIND ME
I’M STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF LIFE WITH MY PLANS BEHIND ME
WELL I GOT A SMILE

FOR EVERYONE I MEET
AS LONG AS YOU DON’T TRY DRAGGING MY BAY
OR DROPPING THE BOMB ON MY STREET

NOW COME ON BABY
GET IN THE ROAD
OH COME ON NOW
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, YEAH

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

YOU SEE THE DARNDEST THINGS
LIKE FAT GUYS DRIVING ‘ROUND IN JEEPS THROUGH THE CITY
WEARING BIG DIAMOND RINGS AND SILK SUITS
PAST CORRUGATED TIN SHACKS FULL UP WITH KIDS
OH MAN I DON’T MEAN A HAMPSTEAD NURSERY
WHEN YOU OWN A BIG CHUNK OF THE BLOODY THIRD WORLD
THE BABIES JUST COME WITH THE SCENERY

OH COME ON BABY
GET IN THE ROAD
OH COME ON NOW
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, YEAH

ONE…TWO…THREE…FOUR…

THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

IS NO PRIVATE CUL-DE-SAC
I CAN’T GET FROM THE CAB TO THE CURB
WITHOUT SOME LITTLE JERK ON MY BACK
DON’T HARASS ME, CAN’T YOU TELL
I’M GOING HOME, I’M TIRED AS HELL
I’M NOT THE CAT I USED TO BE
I GOT A KID, I’M THIRTY-THREE

BABY, GET IN THE ROAD
COME ON NOW
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
YEAH
Proper
Distinctive
Indecisive
Adaptable
 
A General Description of How You Approach New Information and Experiences:

Like someone who can sleep comfortably on either side of the bed, you are equally at home with ideas and beliefs that you have held for a long time and with new ways of thinking and believing that grow out of your intellectual curiosity.

Your sense of who you are and what your place is in the world around you rests on values and principles that are the solid ground you walk upon. You’ve tested them, they work for you, and much of the time you are content to trust them, that is, until some provocative new idea slips in from a conversation, book or some flight of your active imagination. “Hmmmm. What’s this. Never thought of it before.” And off you go, exploring.

Since you love to learn, you’ve always been teachable; you absorb new information, which means you are well-educated in things that matter to you. Sometimes your intellectual exploring will lead you back to where you started; the “next new thing” proves too shallow or impractical to you. But once in a while a new idea or belief will dislodge you from the ground you’ve stood upon; it is so compelling and persuasive that you step away from the tried-and-true and embrace this notion that is brand new to you.

Because you hold both solid beliefs and are open to new ideas, you are accepting of other people and other ways of thinking and believing. You are flexible enough to listen to something new and different, or something outside of your comfort zone; if it works for you, you’ll take it in, and if not, you’ll let it go. In this sense, you know who you are: you are neither closed-minded nor wildly open-minded, but walk somewhere near the middle of the intellectual road.
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward Your Style of Thinking :

Not everyone will be thrilled by your flexible, middle-of-the-road ways of thinking and believing. A few people are so taken with flights of imagination into whatever is new that they might find your commitment to long-standing values and beliefs too confining, if not too boring. Oh well; so be it. They’ll just have to be in free-flight without you.

Others are content with the ideas that have served them and their culture well; they’re not excited by the prospect of moving on. And some people are afraid of new ways of thinking because they are somewhat fragile; they have trouble maintaining their current worlds and don’t want someone like you, for instance pushing out the edges of their intellectual cosmos. So don’t be surprised if your solid values sometimes make people distrust you as an explorer, or if your flexible and open mind sometimes gets you criticized by people who walk away from the very same explorations that you find refreshing.

Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You:

Many others will find you trustworthy and therefore an attractive companion on the intellectual journey. They will appreciate the combination in you of open-mindedness and a commitment to the tried-and-true. In an intellectual climate sometimes dominated by the extremes of either wild innovation or dug-in traditionalism, your moderate views and your proper acceptance of a wide range of possibilities will be a distinctive and refreshing quality. Because you join your curiosity to strong foundational ideas and beliefs and practical solutions to problems, people will trust your occasional explorations into new territories to be reliable, and not “something new for newness sake”.

You are accepting of others, flexible in your own intellectual commitments, well-informed in areas that matter to you, and comfortably aware of who you are and where you stand. This combination will make you a desirable companion on the intellectual journey for many, many people.

So I should cruise libraries if I want to find a date.

14-19, Random Facts About Me Ripped Off eHarmony

Yeah, that’s right – eHarmony.

I went all the way through their personality assessment to find I can’t use their site because my divorce isn’t final and therefore I’m not single.

So I’m using their five-part personality assessment of me as parts 14-19 in my random facts about me that at least one of my friends says he’s not too interested in as it so easily turns into a narcissistic airing of “dirty laundry.” I was thinking by airing it I was washing it in some cathartic way, but nevermind.

I’ll italicize my comments on each of my so-called personality traits below. Each begins with eHarmony’s introduction.

1: Introduction to Agreeableness

This section of your profile describes your interactions with other people. The ways we communicate our feelings, beliefs and ideas to others are influenced by our cultural backgrounds, the way we were raised, and sometimes which side of the bed we got up on this morning.

My bed is against the wall so for me I’m always getting up on the left side – right side though if it is you looking at me from my feet up to my head. The dog lying on my feet at the end of the bed will bite you if you try to wake me.

Some of us are very mindful of others making decisions we hope will be in their best interests, even if it means sometimes neglecting our own interests. Others of us believe each person should be responsible for themselves, taking deep pride in our own character and independence with a firm belief that others are best served by doing the same. The following describes how you engage with others; illustrating the dimension of your personality that determines your independence or your desire to reach out and touch others in meaningful ways.

“Come on, Come on, Come on now touch me babe! Can’t you see that I am not afraid. What was that promise that you made…” – The Doors, “Touch Me”


You are best described as:

TAKING CARE OF OTHERS AND TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

Words that describe you:
Fair
Considered
Collaborative
Responsive
Sensible
Diplomatic
Contemplative
Indulgent
Rational
 
A General Description of How You Interact with Others:

You are important. So are other people, especially if they are in trouble. You have a tender heart, but you know how to establish and keep personal boundaries. You are empathetic and compassionate, but you also believe that it’s best if people solve their own problems and learn to take care of themselves, if they are able. You are deeply moved by the needs of others, but you know that if you don’t take good care of yourself, you’ll wind up being of no use to anyone. So yours is a thoughtful compassion. You strive to be fair and sensible, taking care of others while also taking care of yourself.

When someone really is in trouble, you like to collaborate with them toward a solution; they do their part, you do yours. You consider carefully, and respond in a sensible way; they do their part, and together you move through the difficulty. You seldom act impulsively; rather, when a problem arises, you take your time to think through the situation. This contemplative quality usually means that you’ll arrive at a diplomatic solution, one that’s fair for the other person and also fair to you. It’s frequently a win/win situation.

Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You:

For people who are ruled by tender-hearted compassion, your more diplomatic response to problems might seem too cool, too focused on fairness and not filled enough with sympathy and selflessness.

For them, when someone’s life is on fire, what is needed is not collaboration but rescue. And the person who experiences their life on fire may resent the time you take to contemplate. “I need you, and I need you NOW! This isn’t about fairness, it’s about the fire.” “All deliberate speed” may seem too deliberate and not fast enough, either to the more compassionate or to people in genuine trouble.

At the other end of the spectrum of compassion, those who believe people should take care of themselves may find even your thoughtful sympathies too soft. They expect people, themselves included, to work their own way out of trouble. They are convinced that the helping hand you lend just fosters dependence and is not good for the development of character, either in you or in the person you assist.

Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You:

Many people, perhaps the majority, will come to appreciate your balance as a compassionate person. The more they get to know you, the more they will admire your thoughtful compassion for others and its compliment in the sensible ways you take good care of yourself. Those whom you help will appreciate the way you leave them with their dignity by expecting them to collaborate in their own rescue. Those who are more tender-hearted will find in you a balance they lack; when they’ve run out of energy because they fail to take good care of themselves, you will still have enough compassion left to lift others out of trouble. Even the tough-hearted, those who believe people should solve their own problems, might come to admire your tenderness which they don’t find in themselves. So the people you help will be grateful, and the people who see your balance between self and others will admire you. Certainly, balanced is not bad at all as a way to be known among your friends.

Well, I wish all that was true. There is a lot of truth to it, but arrogance, a tendency towards playing the martyr and even a pride in playing hero by giving to someone is somewhere in there too.

“I’m not a hero. I’m not a savior. Forget what you know.

I’m just a man whose, circumstances, went beyond his control” – Styx, “Mr. Roboto”

“Heroes died… when they ditched their second wife” – Steve Taylor, “Hero”

In fact, what really happened was she found a place to live with the children and there wasn’t room for me.

Sort of – don’t want to air ALL our dirty laundry.

The 12th Randomly-Generated Fact about Me

We’ve reached 12 out of 26 things about me where a face on FACEBOOK made me wonder about my past, present and future.

A friend’s friend has an album posted featuring a number of students during 1979-1980 at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas, Texas.

That’s where I attended school. That’s the 12th fact.

When a sophomore, the school changed to take in ninth-grade students – two of whom remain my friends to this date as my 30th reunion approaches this June (or is it in May at the golf tournament named in some coach’s honor?).

Ah high school – where I learned to drive and my first car was a pickup truck. So many numerous a few beautiful young ladies would say through the years as I met them that they wanted to go out with me. I only dated two – one from Plano High School – and almost dated one after I graduated though her dad nixed the date on her doorstep when I came to get her.

She looked like this sort of, geneexcept with raven black hair that sort of glowed. But she was only 15 about to turn 16 and I was 18 with a 1969 Chevy Malibu. Me and the car had high-performance engines.

So, anyway, I sang in the Concert Choir, swam on the swim team, wrote a few columns for the school newspaper and drank, rocked out to music and tried to find myself and figure out my relationship with God. That’s pretty much all I remember at this hour of the morning – or choose to remember – other than the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is just all right with me.”

 

All in all, I didn’t do too badly after high school considering I had some really good times with my wife Alana pictured here. a4blog

Wrapping up a woeful week

I’ve got to sympathize with Jim over at his blog http://lordibelievehelpmyunbelief.blogspot.com/2008/03/hard-week.html .

I’m luckier than him. My job consists of directly helping people and is a pleasant diversion from life outside work – most of the time.

I qualify with most of the time because I work in an HR call center helping people with their employee benefits. Many times the employees aren’t too happy and can get downright abusive. I enjoy this more than my past award-winning work as a journalist but wish the compensation package approached what I made as a newpaper reporter/editor.

But this week started with my son hospitalized and ends with me and my soon-to-be ex-wife not talking. Last time we talked, she became verbally abusive.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still love my wife. I wish there was a switch inside my heart I could just flick to the off position and then – poof – gone would be all the memories of great times, admiration for her great talents and abilities and my desire to be near her and help her achieve her goals. Sort of like turning off the light. There is still love mixed with a lot of bitterness.

God removes the bitterness when I seek him. He reminds me of what love is and part of that means in my mind wanting what’s best for her – and that includes this divorce.

The only bright spots this week come from finally starting the divorce process, meeting with an attorney and knowing my son is out of the hospital.

In addition, Jim and several others have been praying for my entire fracturing family. His and others’ blogs have helped me keep my sanity. Were it not for the devotionals as well over at Crosswalk.com, John Shore’s occasional humor and Brandt’s hilarity over at Letters from Kamp Krusty I’d completely lose my joy in Jesus.

God sends emissaries, I think

Tina, who wrote an awesome post today at http://tina.gasperson.com/2008/03/13/treasure/ , left me a sympathetic comment on my last blog entry as well as Jim, who phrased my question better here http://lordibelievehelpmyunbelief.blogspot.com/2008/03/question-for-codependents.html .

I love Jim’s riff on “pure heroin for a codependent.”

 Thanks ya’ll, but know that – to paraphrase Solomon – “the wise person hears all sides of a matter.”

I’ve been a controlling beast in the past – and asked my wife’s forgiveness for it – and have the passive-aggressive lifestyle down. God’s forgiven me and is taking me away from that since I repented. My wife hasn’t forgiven.

I was a little harsh in my comment about my future ex-wife. Codependent or stupid as this may sound, I still love her by the definition of love as “seeking the best for someone regardless of the consequences for you.” She’ll be happier without me and grow more spiritually. Same is true for me.

Together, we keep each other from growing closer to God. I prayed once with her and she criticized the way I prayed. That was before we even married. She’s 14 years younger than I – you think my thoughts, or actions, were all spiritual during our courtship?

But now I’m working with God and asking Him to take out that trash. I’ve got to get a handle on my sin, with God’s help, and keep from doing it again.

Thanks for your help, folks.

Study shows steeple-chasing Christians

“A change of habit
used to go bar-hopping
you started church-shopping, did ya?

It’s been a problem
finding one to fit ya
you didn’t feel good, did ya?”

-Steve Taylor “Steeplechase”

As a Southern Baptist I learned scripture, asked Jesus Christ into my heart and then took off on a steeplechase.

In my youth I wasn’t ashamed to be called Southern Baptist. Royal Ambassadors helped me learn scripture and gave me a better social life than I probably would have had. Bible drills left me versed in scripture that would later provide peace during chaos, even the chaos of church splits.

Awanas currently helps my children the same way. I love Awanas. My Southern Baptist mother actually teaches a group of Bible-toting tykes.

But back then, after my military discharge, I moved on to a Bible Church associated with Dallas Theological Seminary. This was in large part due to their campus ministry where I met someone I wanted to date, then I hopped over to the Episcopal Church due to the influence of other friends (mainly because I liked their choir and they let me sing in it). Finally, I’m back at a Bible Church “very loosely” affiliated with Dallas Theological Seminary. A member said they’d rather be known as Bible-based non-denominational.

In between, I did a lot of searching Steve Taylor called “a steeplechase” on his album “I Want to be a Clone.”

For those who didn’t already know through first-hand experience like mine, the Pew forum (funny name for a group doing a religious study, huh?) has released a study noted in an Associated Press story below:

(AP) — The U.S. religious marketplace is extremely volatile, with nearly half of American adults leaving the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether, a new survey finds.

The study released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is unusual for it sheer scope, relying on interviews with more than 35,000 adults to document a diverse and dynamic U.S. religious population.

The rest of the article provides more details. A question that arises in my mind is why? Why are so many seeking God in so many directions? Should denominations matter? Should they exist? How do I know I’m at the church where God wants me?

I may have already, elsewhere in these blog entries, described a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian that I believe shows the beginning of denominations. Brian runs off from a village after preaching religious babble, a crowd of messiah-seekers in hot pursuit. He drops a gourd and a pursuer picks it up and shouts “Follow the Gourd! Follow the Gourd!” Brian loses a sandal and it is immediately seized and another pursuer proclaims “Follow the shoe! Follow the shoe!” A melee ensues and Brian escapes unnoticed.

Like C.S. Lewis noted, I do believe there is such a thing as “Mere Christianity.” Everything else may come down to be window-dressing, I don’t know.

I can sum up my disagreements – mind you these are broad stereotypes and I do remember exceptions – with the various denominations I joined thus:

I believed the Southern Baptists focused more on Jesus Christ, some on God the Father and not enough on the Holy Spirit. I always seemed to join a church about to split as well.

I believed the Episcopal Church had a more balanced approach to the Holy Trinity but was too permissive and occasionally overdid the pageantry.

I believed the Brethren Church was too passive.

I believed the Bible church affiliated with Dallas Theological Seminary was too strict because they booted their Campus Outreach Minister who was leading us in Bible study. He was mid-trib, not pre-trib – proof dispensationalism can be deadly or you can at least lose your job over it and be publicly excoriated in a loving manner.

So I followed love. No, not all the ladies I chased unsuccessfully in churches. (That provokes an interesting image of Harpo Marx in church). I went with the church that reached out to me in love and met my physical needs as well as spiritual ones. So happened they were a Bible church that preaches Jesus and Him crucified, but they also preach an accepting, loving Jesus who forgave the woman at the well and, in my case, the guy living in a car down by the river.

So that’s what I sort of recommend if your still steeplechasing. Pray God would lead you to a biblically-sound church full of sinners loving other sinners – a church that takes all parts of the Holy Trinity seriously, disciples thoroughly, and loves everyone the way Jesus said to.