Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dear Reader,

I was asked to remove this post for the “unity and purity” of the Church by a high ranking official at the church I attend. I have decided to edit the post, in keeping with the ideas expressed in the original. The date listed above remains the original post date, but the new post was made December 1, 2005. I would delete the post entirely, but the comments would also be lost and should there be a need, they may add to future discussion. To any who may have taken the prior post that this replaces or even this one as a personal or institutional attack no such intent is intended and I apologize if it has come across in such manner.

So let’s get the ball a rollin’

As I said, I’ve been giving some thought to something that I’ve found a bit mind boggling. My church has planned their spring break (for those who still get spring break) mission trips to Juarez, Mexico and Trujillo, Peru. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that mission work is truly a gift to the unbeliever in need of Christ, however I have of late been noticing a growing trend, perhaps one that has been there for quite sometime that I am now just seeing, but to me it’s new and growing. I see a lot of Protestant Christian organizations finding their common ground against the Roman Catholic Church. I see a lack of understanding in some Protestants when they debate Catholics on matters of theology and doctrine. Not all, but some Protestants are guilty of intellectual injustice when they enter these arguments. There is, in my opinion, a habit to not take the time and effort amongst some Protestants to only follow the opinions and ideas of what I like to call “the denominational author of the month” that lends itself to an air of moral superiority because Rome’s bad and Protestantism is better. I urge those who do this to lend more time to reading primary source material, for often the definitions used by Protestants and Catholics do indeed differ greatly. For those who go to the primary source material, continue to do so and continue your honest intellectual debating.
That being said, it brings me back to the two mission trips I mentioned earlier.
Mexico and Peru are countries reported by the CIA Factbook to be largely Christian, which takes it’s information from many different sources to produce the most reliable and consistent data available. Now, let me make this clear, I consider Catholics to be Christian. Which may go down hard for some, however, is this a blanket statement…no, naturally there are wolves in sheep’s clothing in any denomination. Peru is reported to be 84% Christian and Mexico at over 95%. Now, as Rich asked to I think these numbers are true, I doubt it, but having never been to either country I can only go by the information reported. The factbook also reports the United States as over 76% Christian. Is that the case here, probably not, but I also can’t judge someone’s heart only God can do that. I use these as examples because it’s where my church is showing an interest, however, we can easily apply it to other churches and denominations. What I see are many denominations fielding mission trips of countries with large Christian populations. Now there may be many good reasons for this, such as the need for charity in poverty stricken areas and the true desire to get the Gospel out to those who have not heard it. However, I see another trend which I read about, see on TV, and hear about, that being the need to convert Catholics. To me it is a sad reason and only strikes me as a denominational “brand war”. I will use Peru as an example, for I have seen some things that trouble me. In Peru, it is my understanding that the denomination my church is affiliated with is registered and touted as Reformed Catholic. Yet they are not in the way many in the United States understand the term. I have seen recent pictures of ministers in Peru wearing the priestly collar often associated with Catholics and in Peru this could be mistaken as such, at least I can see how it could. Of course, it just may be a way or trying to stand out as a minister of the Word, but I wonder if it is the most honest way in a country, where even the most uneducated see this style of dress as a sign of being in communion with Rome. I also have seen pictures of kneelers in the pews, something I’ve never seen in the demonation here stateside. Is this a cultural thing? Is this another tie to disguise itself as being tied to the RCC? I don’t know the answer and though I assume the intentions are good, it may not be the best way to do things.
Would it not also be better to focus more on areas of the world in desparate need of mission work? (Ok, short term trips it’s not feasible, but long term, I’m sure there’s a need for those called to the mission field in underserved countries). Especially those in Africa, Asia, and formerly behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War.
Are many of these mission for the betterment of the Kingdom? Yes.
Are there those who make public the agenda to convert Catholics or other denominations to their own? Yes.

It is the latter I worry about, whether here in the US or abroad. Are Christians in some instances losing sight of bringing people to Christ for the purpose of adding to the ranks of their denomination, it seems to be the case in some instances. Do some folks consider Catholics to not be Christian? Yes, I am not one of them and will respectfully disagree with those who hold that belief. Such minor bickering gets in the way of more important things. Such as, though not likely in my lifetime, the pure unification of all denominations, which may not happen till we’re all in heaven. For those who want to engage in a denominational pissing contest, go to Alaska and let the winner be the one with best penmanship. The rest of us have more important work to do.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ok, so I've decided to start writing, you know poetry/songs stuff like that. It's really what I'm best at, the engineering thing just pays the bills. Not to sound boastful, but when you're in the 95th percentile on every intelligence test you've ever taken...well you need to stay busy and keep the mind active. Hence, my attempts to learn to play the guitar and learn a new sport, hockey. I really do need to be busy, when I'm bored I get down in the dumps really easily. With today being Thanksgiving and having nowhere to go, I kept busy baking pies and watching football. However, even though folks may tell you that every holiday aways from family gets easier, let me tell you that they are full of shit. On the bright side, I'll be home for Christmas.

Home, an interesting concept. I've been living here in Texas for over 3 years now and I still refer to Rhode Island as home. I'm still renting and don't have a home of my own. When I do, that will be home, till then the house I grew up in and still have a lot of stuff in (till I get room for it) will be home.

Tomorrow marks the annual football game between my beloved Aggies and the wierdos from Austin. I went to Yell Practice tonight at Kyle Field and looking at the body language of the team, unless the coaches or players are inspired or find some fire, they're already defeated. I see no passion, I hear no passion. We're talking the big rivalry game and there is no passion, no fire in the belly, no eye of the tiger, no swagger, no cockiness, nada, zilch, niet, nothing. Tomorrow will be a long day for the Ags unless they find that extra something that teams need...I like to think of it as testicular fortitude. For those challenged in the vocabulary area...they need to play balls out.

Anyway, I am going to finish watching my DVD copy of the 1986 Cotton Bowl, A&M vs. Auburn and Heisman winner Bo Jackson. The 'Crew knew Bo and played with the aforementioned T.F..
Ags won....big.

Well, I am off to sleep. Until then dwell on this,

sometimes the best cowboys, aren't cowboys at all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

There is something so very simplistic about tooling down Highway 6 towards Hempstead early in the morning with a good CD blaring over the speakers and a hot chocolate steaming in the cup holder. No worries, no cares, no BS to deal with. I had a wonderful weekend at Liendo Plantation lending my limited abilities to assisting the Union cause with the Mississippi Marines. A great time, watching burnrished rows of steel rising over a hill and the smell of gun powder engulfing me, I must say it felt natural like I'd been there before and after a little instruction, had been doing what I was doing my entire life. Too bad Custer was riding a poofy horse, a nice horse yes, but the hair tassel on the head was a bit much. I enjoyed myself and I'm still tired and still smiling!

This week marks my third Thanksgiving in College Station. I'll spend Thursday baking pies and Friday at Kyle Field and visiting a friend in town for a cajun turkey day feast.

Last evening I went and saw "Walk The Line", go see it. If you have seen it, go again!

I was supposed to go see the film Friday night, but it was sold out so I ended up going to the Fox (where I should be part owner by now given all the money I've spent there) with my buddy Andy. We had a great time catching up, we hadn't really had time to hang out like that in a long time. It was awesome, and the free beer I got from the Fox was good too! It was such a good conversation, I did not see (until we were leaving) the two cute blondes who ended up sitting to my right....Perhaps that's a good thing.

Next Tuesday I venture into the mouth of hell, The Tap. There's only two reasons I'd go is to watch Aggie football if I couldn't get a seat anywhere else...most of you can guess the other. :-)

my copy of the U2 Houston show arrived n 2 CD's today. I'll be making copies for those that went.

I'd post more, but I don't feel like it. Wait till next time...I'm hungry and my turkey burgers are defrosted.

" Have you got anything for pain? I don't know how much more of this I can take, cause I've been stuck out here for days and this hangover just won't break"

Friday, November 18, 2005

November 18, 1999

Let Us Never Forget

"I had the great privilege of attending the memorial service at A&M tonight and was deeply moved by the events I experienced. The A&M student body is truly one of the greatest treasures of our State. As part of the UT delegation, we sat on the floor of Reed Arena, and immediately following the end of the service, I heard this rustling sound behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw the sight of 20,000 students spontaneously putting their arms on their neighbor's shoulders, forming a great circle around the arena. The mass stood there in pin-drop silence for close to five minutes, then, from somewhere, someone began to hum quietly the hymn 'Amazing Grace'. Within seconds, the whole arena was singing. I tried too--I choked, I cried. This event brought me to tears. It was one if not the defining moment of my college career. I learned something tonight. For all us Longhorns who discount A&M in our neverending rivalry, we need to realize one thing. Aggieland is a special place, with special people. It is infinitely better equipped than us at dealing with a tragedy such as this for one simple reason. It is a family. It is a family that cares for its own, a family that reaches out, a family that is unified in the face of adversity; a family that moved this Longhorn to tears. My heart, my prayers, and the heart of the UT student body go out tonight to Aggies and their family and friends as they recover from this great loss. Texas A&M, the Eyes of Texas are Upon You--and they look with sincere sympathy upon a family that has been through so much tragedy this semester."

--Eric Opiela, UT Student Body Vice President

Saturday, November 12, 2005

You can talk all you want, but I want to see what you do.

Well, it's Saturday night and here I sit at the computer once again. Listening to Steve Earle's Live From Austin (aka Austin City Limits from September 12, 1986), Soft to the Touch, Charlie Robison's Good Times, and a little Keb' Mo'. And I've been sitting here thinking, and not just about baseball, football, hockey or even that song I've got floating in my head to the tune of "Red Moon" about Lonesome Dove's Jake Spoon. So what the heck is going on my noodle, well multiple things, but one thought surfaces above all the others, moral consistency.

It would seem to me that I'm seeing a large amount of moral inconsistency lately. This week, Texas passed Prop. 2 that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and bans any acceptance of anything similar or identical (the little lawyer voice in me laughs at this..cause if something is identical it's the did Texan just ban all marriages? reading the amendment, a valid argument can be made). The problem I have with this amendment is it's moral inconsistency. Let me get this straight, the "holier than thou" nutjobs have become so scared that the government's possible recognition of gay marriages, and all the rights and privileges that go with it, will affect the beliefs of their church membership that they've strong armed politicians to bend to their "mighty will." Poppycock! Churches are not going to be forced to perform such services, but that should not preclude the government from doing so. It's a simple legal arrangement, not one being forced onto any church. If a gay couple wants to be married and have that marriage be recognized by the state, that is their right. Instead of loving thy neighbor, the religious right has alienated their neighbor. That sound you hear, is one armed men clapping for the religious nutcases. The problem is, I don't see anyone pushing amendments to outlaw divorce or any other problem facing the institute of marriage today. Moral inconsistency.

How about those folks who favor the death penalty and seek to end abortion? Murder is murder, whether it's in the womb or at the hands of the state. I point example "A" out as myself. Though lately, I am taking a long hard look at this idea. Moral inconsistency.

Random thought...Steve Earle covering Springsteen's "State Trooper" not too shabby.

Back to my point....

Another example I'm seeing out there comes from those who I think would be better at realizing their inconsistency before it begins. Those who would stand in front people and express their ideas and convictions and yet not hold true to them when challenged. What they say means nothing to me if their actions will not back it up, whether they are right or wrong, I can respect a person who is firm in their convictions and won't try to hide smoke and mirrors if they're challenged. Moral inconsistency.

Interjection: Charlie Robison's "Photograph" is brutally honest songwriting.

I will get along better with someone I disagree with who I know where they stand than I will someone who is in the shifting sands. A man isn't measured by his words but by his actions. We can't read minds or hearts, so it's all we got to go on.

This all might not even make sense, but I needed to write and get this out of the system.

And FYI...G-DAY is coming November 25th.
That ole wind knockin outside my door
Tellin me you ain't livin round here no more.
Three days out of Santa Fe,
I knew I'd no longer pass your way.

This road I travel is always winding,
Ain't no end to it in sight
Hop a bus
Hop a plane
I'm the only on to

Scattered papers across my floor,
Screens shattered forevermore
Rolling waves on Narragansett Bay,
Told Me you haven't passed this way...

This road I travel is always winding
Ain't no end to it in sight
Caught a cab
Stole a car,
I can't get that far.

Boston's Common,
Versaille's Gardens,
None of them can tell me well
You haven't passed this way...
And I've got nothing left to say...

This road I travel is always winding,
Ain't no end to it in sight
I pray each night someday it might,
But the house is empty till you I'm finding,
and I can't get that far.
Howling wind, life of sin, whatev'r am I to do.
Take this car drive it far, down that winding road
and search for you.

and search for you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Yes dear reader, you are in the right place. I've gone to a new look and a new title. I liked the old one, but you know, sometimes you just need change to shake things up a bit. I'd compare it to a fresh coat of paint on the walls of your favorite room in the house. Or a new set of sails on your trusty ole sail boat.

Sail boats, there's something I have not seen in a long time. I was feeling a bit homesick for them today as a big shot Houston lawyer was speaking in a work related training class today, cracking northerner jokes. Sadly, he's probably never set foot north of Waco. I started to day dream about Salter's Grove. A little park on Narragansett Bay just down the road from where I grew up. There was a large breakwater wall that one could get out to by climbing the rocks, and if you knew the right path, you could make it without fear of getting wet. I used to go out there and just sit for hours to think and watch the boats sailing up and down the bay. Looking like they had somewhere important to be getting to, yet at the same time not really being a hurry to get there and just enjoying the water and the sun. It never got old, truth be told I miss it. To just sit and be still, knowing that you're not the first person to sit here nor the last and that life is so precious and this world so much greater than the things we've got on our minds. Really, will it matter ten years from now if the biggest irritation I've got is the fact that the sole's of my nice dress black shoes need repair and it irritates me that Italian leather shoe's just aren't built the way used to be? Seriously, is it to much to ask that shoe's withstand the wear and tear I put them through on construction sites? Is my project really so important that I sometimes am working it through my mind when I've long sense the office?

Small stuff, really don't mean much. Yet it's in the simplest thoughts and things that we can find the most happiness. A hug from a friend, seemingly insignificant to the giver can mean the world to world on the squeeze end of it. Holding a door open, saying please and thank you. Staring up at the shooting stars at night. A young child saying something simply obvious and knowing that they're just getting it and it's a wonderment to them. Now that's cool, that's life.

And sometimes, you've just got let go and screw it all and just howl at the moon a bit. Then watch the boats sail out into the ocean until they're but a speck on the horizon, a little tiny object being at the mercy of the waves.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

1. Love Never Knows
2. Trains
3. The House That Jack Built
4. Soft To The Touch
5. Something The Doctor Didn’t Order
6. Brent Rollins
7. He Took Me To The River
8. I Must Want It Bad
9. Give It Up To Me
10. Red Moon
11. Stillhouse
12. Fallen Angel

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

One week and counting. I was reminded of this (not that I need reminding mind you) when I went to Hastings this evening after work and after picking up my ice skates which I had left at the rink to be sharpened. Right there on the doors and then in the store stood plastered the reminders of next week's album release party. I continue to hear "Something That The Doctor Didn't Order" frequently on the local radio. Also, today brought news of a new album for the spring, an acoustic album being recorded at a show in Port Aransas this Saturday night. If anyone want's to do a long haul road trip (we're talking 6 or 7 hours each way to the Gulf Coast near South Padre Island), let me know. Is there anything hotter than a country girl who likes Joplin? I don't think so.