Thursday, December 25, 2008

"story Factory" - A Tribute to Sierra

Story Factory

They come from far,
They come from wide,
They come to hear a story
From the other side;

A million stories deep,
Way down under,
The Story Factory
Is a place of wonder;

Everyday it’s new;
Everyday it’s true;
Every time a story starts
Their ears are stuck like glue;

A tale of Hope,
A tale Divine,
A tale they’ve been longing for
Every single time;

Stories are for fun,
Stories are a game,
But listen to these stories
And you’ll never be the same;

We live a life of stories,
Yes, you know it’s true,
I’m a Story Factory
And so are you.

"Technomaniac" - A Tribute to Canaan


MP3, Iphone,
Didj, and Wii
He was a technomaniac
Before the age of three;

Upload, download,
Barcodes, I bet,
If you cannot find him,
He’s on the internet;

Webkinz, Penguins,
Freewebs, and more;
Gook Squad aspirations
Or the Apple Store?

STEM school, middle school,
High school, and beyond,
A college of technology
Is right where he belongs;

No matter where he goes,
Technology’s the game;
No matter what you call him,
Technomaniac is his name.

Winter Blankets

Winter Blankets

“Merciful snow,”
A call through the window
“Come, cover the dead;”
Autumn’s wake
Ushered the Dulled, Emptied, And Depressed
Into my soul.

“Come, redeem Brown and Gray;
Heal lifeless ground;
Protect my eyes;
Show beauty, purity, and hope
Into my soul,
And let it be their home;
Warm me with belief
That death is not a conclusion.”


“Merciful fleece,”
A call from the couch
“Come cover the cold one,”
Winter’s draft
Ushered the Chill Of Lonely Days
Into my bones.

“Come warm my skin and bones;
Soothe my goosebumps;
Protect my skin and bones;
Show warmth, coziness, and cuddling
Into my embrace,
And let it be their home;
Warm me with belief
That winter is not a conclusion.”
Do you have the will
to fly?
Do you have the will
to cry out?
Do you have the will
to shout
“fear has no right to be here”?

Do you have the will
to fly?
Do you have the will
to cry out
“fear isn’t going to scare me”?

Do you have the will
to fly
to the rest of the universe?

Do you have the will?

-Sierra, 24 Dec 08

Gonzalez Family Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all. May the peace of the season be with you. We have been incredibly blessed to have a very good Christmas.

Christmas Eve at my sister Amy's house was a blast. Great food, fund games, fund gifts, and great people. We have been blending a family since (before) my mother remarried. We are feeling normaler (if there is such a thing) than ever before. I really love my whole family. They are good and very fun people who make me laugh. I am lucky to have them.

Christmas morning was at our home. Big Breakfast is a tradition. Kids opening presents. The big hit, Nintendo Wii Fit. Pajamas all day, hot tea, phone calls to family members far away, and looking at the bright sun glistening off the pure white snow. Nothing better. This life is a very good life.

We are grateful to God for a good life. Here are some pics:

Sierra is 10 years old, smart, and rarely smiles for the camera. This on is a treat.

Canaan is 8 years old and makes crazy faces in the front of a camera. This pic was taken in the middle of gift giving.

By the glow of a Nintendo DS.

"Mom, did you know that Nintendo DS's are awesome?"

Canaan on Wii Fit.

Canaan still on the Wii Fit.

Dad jumps 127 meters on Wii Fit ski jumping.

Sierra rocks the house on ski jumping.

And even mom is getting into the act.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sierra in Manga Christmas

Sierra does not like stage make-up

Sierra does not like to get her picture taken when she is wearing stage make-up.

Gabrielle (with disco hair) visits mary

Sierra is a shepherd minding her own business.

Sierra looks to the sky.

Sierra and Zoe sing
Sierra sings.

Sierra did such a good job on the Manga Christmas. We are so proud of her. She nailed her lines and got a big laugh out one line. It was a real boost for her.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Top 10 Irritating Phrases Unmasked

Bradley Wright let's us know what is getting under the skin of researchers at Oxford. Here is what is bothering them with my explanations:

The top ten most irritating phrases:
1 - At the end of the day - I just said a whole bunch of stuff that I know was irrelevant and don't care that you weren't listening, but I want you to get this one point.

2 - Fairly unique - There is absolutely nothing in the world just like this one, except there are a few things that are pretty much just like it, but they are few in number.
You should buy this because it is valuable and rare...BUY IT NOW!!!!!!

3 - I personally - Proper language for fake plactic tree people who have no personality.

4 - At this moment in time - Now. Jack Bauer never, EVER says, "At this moment in time," because lives depend on econommy of language. He either says, "Now," "Now, dammit," or "ChloedammitNOW!"

5 - With all due respect - I do not respect you nor do I believe you are due any respect.

6 - Absolutely - I want you to think I really, superduper really, mean something because my YES is not enough - and I have no self esteem.

7 - It's a nightmare - (Usually accompanied witt an overly dramatic eyeroll). It was bad, but I have limited vocabulary, and I want to try to get you to say "Oh my God,," or better yet, "OMG." (If the responder DOES give in with an OMG, then the manipulation was successful).

8 - Shouldn't of - I messed up and don't read much.

9 - 24/7 - 3 remainder 3

10 - It's not rocket science - Almost nothing is actually rocket science, so this phrase is not making anything more clear. Scientists who use scientific methods for inquiry about rockets are the only ones who are doing rocket science. Calling something not rocket science is like calling something not the Bayesian Information Criteria. Depite the truth to the claim, little, if anything , is ruled out when using this phrase in fforts to points toward what "it" is.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunset on Lake Street

Orange and purple sunset
On frozen Lake Street;
Paints warm the grey city way;
Dispersed sunrays of orange mist
Burst upwards, into purple clouds;
One quick spray of sky graffiti,
Before dusk;
Concrete and steal tinted gently;
a brief smile in the bundled and hunched;
Even breath-mist takes color -
In the frigid heart of Winter,
Something warm happened.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worlds are colliding...or maybe hugging

I have lived in many worlds across varying political, religious, regional, and academic spectrums. Granted, there are more worlds I have not lived in than there are worlds I have, but having lived in a few sometimes highly contrasted worlds has given me exposure to some differences and similarities between worlds.

For an example of differences, in one religious world being countercultural has meant being against gay marriage whereas in another religious world being countercultural has meant marshalling resources through art to fight against human trafficking. Those are very different perspectives on morality and mission.

For an example of similarities, each political group seems to believe that their perspective is common sense and that any honesty and thinking person would arrive at roughly the same political perspective.

Another example of similarities is that people within one world find it hard to have conversations with people in a world different than their own. Not only do they find it hard to have these conversations, they rarely place themselves into contexts in which such a conversation would be possible. It takes effort, courage, and self-confrontation to effectively place onself in a context to have such a conversation and to converse without quitting because a quick convert cannot be made.

I will add one important caveat here: the less social power a person has the more that person is required to live in other people's worlds and therefore just living requires navigating such conversations. It is not a choice people with less social power have, but rather a necessity for survival.

So, to come to my point: I think that Obama being president (on Jan 20th, 2009) is necessarily two worlds coming together. A Black man (who is really biracial) is governing a mostly white (roughly 75%) nation. The question for us all is whether this coming together will be a collision or a hug. Will we CRASH into each other or will we find a kind a respectful way to connect?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is sin?

Greed, lust, sloth, etc may be the initial way to answer the question of what sin is. And to be sure, these are real things. Looking at Wall Street might show evidence of greed. The fact that the porn industry is booming might be evidence to suggest sexual lust is in high gear. Look at how much time is wasted by people on blogs and facebook (click here to see all my firends and read my status updates ;-)) and perhaps it could be said sloth is infecting us...and let's throw in some hypocisy...just for full disclosure on my part.

I do not contest these as sin. But maybe I do a little bit. What if greed and sloth and lust etc are not so much sin itself, but rather they are outcomes of sin? What if sin is more like a web of influences? What if sin is an ubiquitous, but nuanced, network of forces which work against humans being fully human? Could it be that when we try not being greedy or selfish we are still not getting at the source? Could it be that in trying to be good by not being bad as defined by what I am calling the outcomes of sin, that we remain fully vulnerable to fall into another part of the network of forces which is sin?

Furthermore, what if the power of this de-humanizing network of forces I am referring to as sin is difficult to detect or avoid? What if it is everywhere you ahve been or will go? What if this network of forces is "The Matrix" in a sense - a simulacra of life meant to provide a minimally acceptable experience of life which would for the most part suffice most people, but systematically de-humanize people, degrading their free will, their capacity to give and receive love, and slowly separate people from their ability to know and be known?

Is this is sin, then I need rescue more than I ever believed I ever did.


If this perspective more closely approximated the truth of sin, I wonder what the implications would be for defining morality. How would this more nuanced and mystrious view of sin influence how people lived and treated each other?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ancient Document Quote Quiz

From which ancient document does the following quote come?

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
No prizes, just pride.
Cheaters can click here for the answer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Theological Whiplash

Last Sunday I went to worship gatherings at two different churches. One was rooted in a modern, positivist philosophy (an evangelical church) and the other was influenced by a postmodern, constructivist philosophy (an emergent church). Wow.

Now, since I was paying attention, I noticed the very different tones of the meetings. Certainly many of the elements were the same. Both had music, prayer, scripture, public speaking, announcements, and basic church business. On the surface, it could be said that these church differed only by decor, one casual and the other artsy.

The difference came, however, in how truth was presented. At the evangelical church truth was prepackaged, trimmed with scripture scraps, centered on a topic, and presented with premise, evidence, and neat conclusion. All was resolved. At the emergent church three different translations (TNIV, The Message, King James) of a long chunks of scripture was read by three different people. People were asked to practice Lectio Divina during these three readings. There was no prescribed take home message. The pastor literally said, "Tonight we'll let the scripture was over us," whatever that means. No one knew what they were supposed to learn, but at the same time it was understood that that what was needed to be learned was learned.

The difference was how truth was dealt with. Both assumed that there was truth involved. However, in the evangelical church the truth was owned by the pastor and issued to the people. In the emergent church the truth was assumed to be owned by each individual.

I like both churches, and both are full of good people. I do not mean to be critical of either. It's just that I experienced these two very different approaches to truth within hours of each other. Whiplash.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nashville is out of gas - laugh

For some reason, Nashville is out of gas.

Click here and see a hilarious video about it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hard-wired and soft-wired differently

Warning: A phd student is about to talk about research methods and philosophy (potential for boredom is high). But it actually leads to something personal.

When it comes to taking a scientific approach to learning, one uses methods. There are two general categories of methods of research: quantitative and qualitative. There are also mixed methods, which in some way, are a hybrid of these two general categories of methods.

In science, your research question typically drives your method. If you want to know the correlation between levels of adolescent trust of the parent and levels of parent knowledge of adolescent daily activities, then you are going quantitative - think numbers with quantitative methods.

However, if you want to know about the lived experiences of adolescents disclosing sensitive things to their parents, then you are going to go with qualitative methods - think stories with qualitative methods.

These kinds of methods take VERY different kinds of thinking and analysis. With the quantitative (numbers) methods you need to know how to how to do statistics. With qualitative (stories) you need to know how to identify themes across the stories. OK, there is much more to it than that, but for now we'll leave it at that.

I believe I am hard-wired to know statistics. It is very hard for me, but it also makes sense once I get it. Statistics tell me lots of things and can show relationships. I like knowing how much? How much changed? Is it significant? etc.

However, there are some philosophical assumptions (or seductions) which come with quantitative methods. These assumptions have to do with truth. What is true for your sample is true everyone who is like your sample. With stats it is extremely tempting to the point of intexication at times to believe that when you get a result with statistical significance, you have learned something which is true. Here is where I fall apart. True for who? Under what conditions? For how long? What about the people who do not fit in the normal distribution of the study? What about people left out of the study? The claims of quantitative methods sometimes are the pinnacle of either arrogance of naivete.

With qualitative methods, you have different assumptions. These assumptions are more specific to the people you studied and there are no claims that the findings go beyond the study. The philosophy here is that there is local knowledge and that is important. There is more room for difference, creativity, and deep exploration with qualitative methods. Truth is not TRUTH, but truth...and even then is self-reflective. Qualitative methods can allow the researcher to locate herself in the study...hopefully a confession of sorts of bias (rather than a report of objectivity - something humans are incapable of achieving).

I am hardwired to do quantitative methods and softwired to do qualitative methods. This makes it very hard to be a student and researcher. It makes me want to do everything.

And I am learning that I cannot do everything...the hard way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creating Something

I have begun year three of doctoral studies in Family Social Science. This year has begun better than the others. More relaxed. More peaceful. More confident. Closer to my graduation date.

I am taking an assessment course. This course deals with measuring things, generally people and relationships. One of our assignments is to create a new measure of something.

I am challenging myself to create a theoretically-based, clinically useful, reliable, valid measure which (drumroll please) does not require the respondent to be literate or be quantitatively oriented.

Theoretically-based means there is a theory backing up this development of this measure.

Clinically useful means that a therapist could use it with a client every session, it tells something clinically relevant about the client's situation, shows progress from session to session, is easy to interpret, and takes up very little time.

Reliable means that it measures the same time after time.

Valid means that it measures what it clams to measure - it's accurate.

Does not require literacy means that the repsondent does not need to know how to read or write in order to complete the assessment.

Does not require quantitative orientation means that the person does not need to understand scales from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 or whatever.

Think I can do it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Emergent Church of Christ

Check out the new Facebook Group - Emergent Church of Christ. This could prove to be interesting for the Church of Christ and for the Restoration Movement in general.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Musings on Stories, Truth, and Belief

Besides fleeting moments of experience, do we have anything but stories? Hopes, perhaps. But aren't hopes just stories about the future? Anticipated stories? Stories under construction?

More and more I am coming to understand life as a story. We anticipate (rarely accurately) the story to come, we live the story, and then we have it to tell forever - if we desire to. Our collection of stories are ripe with meaning and serve to construct our identites. We collaborte with our social and ecological environment in order to highlight or obscure certain stories or stories with certain themes. Repeated highlighting or obscuring over time tends to form belief - perceived truth.

Without some kind of agency or effort, we may become slaves to our stories or the stories our surroundings keep highlighting. In order to be healthy we must not only retain authorship of our stories, we must highlight and obscure our stories with honesty and authenticity. We must not lie.

So much of what we call truth is belief. So much of life is about belief. There is TRUTH, but it is reserved for the Divine, or perhaps is the Divine.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Celebrating anniversary #12 - grateful

Gail and I celebrated our 12th anniversary this weekend. It was so good. I have had the privilege to be with an incredible woman for a dozen years.

Were life fair and just, I would have traveled a different path - probably alone. But Life for me has not been fair. Rather, life seems to have tipped in my favor in so many ways. I am a man who reaps harvests from fields I have not planted. I get to view the world by standing on other's shoulders - people who have generously given me their shoulders. And I get to be with a woman who makes me a better man.

I am grateful.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I am going to camp. I will be gone for a week. I like it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Shack

I am just now reading the "all the rage" book called The Shack. It is very good. I am not done with it yet, but I have to say that it looks like I am going to like it all the way through.

So far I can say that it is a redemptive and loving confrontation of human solutions and perspective. It challenges some of the most cherished loyalties humans cling to, especially religious people, and yet does it in an engaging and contagious manner. The novel reveals a patience, no, an anticipation of transformation that defines hope.

I might be off because I am not yet done reading it, but I do believe that it is worth the time to read.

It is very quick read, even for a slow reader like me. If you ahve not read it already, end out your summer with The Shack.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lightning strikes

This one was just a little too close for comfort.

We're safe.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fun Family Weekend

Today we slept in, went fishing (skunked), swam at Crystal Lake (not the one from Friday the 13th), and then hit the gathering at Solomon's Porch where I was the representative for Churches of Christ in speaking about the many traditions present at the Porch. It was a good day.

Yesterday we slept in, unpacked more boxes, went to the Burnsville International Festival, and watched movie. It was a good day.

Put those two good days together and it was a good weekend.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama's speech on fatherhood is worth all 24 minutes.

Click here to see it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Professional Identity Disorder

When you enter a doctoral program like the one I am in, you are entering a culture of research. They will make a researcher out of you. I am becoming a researcher.

I am also a therapist and I maintain a small practice. I never want to give this up because it is valuable to the people I serve and keeps me humble. Talking with another person about the most sensitive and sometimes aching parts of their lives with the sense that i have something to offer them is humbling. We take on these challenges together and work toward solutions.

But I am also a teacher. I love to teach. However, I love to quality teach. What I mean by that is I don't think I am cut out for teaching 5 or 6 courses per semester. I can't give students why they need if I have that many students.

I am also a minister, in a sense. Although I will probably never be a minister professionally, I still have this heart of a minister that wants to do so much good for people.

So the question is, who am I (professionally speaking)? I think I might have Professional Identity Disorder (PID).

Anyone else outh there ever has a bout of professional PID?

My guess is that I will do some measure of all of these, but one identity will emerge as primary. Of all of these, I have the least training in research, so that is where I am placing most of academic efforts. Who know, maybe I'll become a decent researcher?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Reflections

I am a father, but I am not a creation of my children.
I am a husband, but I am not a creation of my wife.
I am a son, but I am not a creation of my parents.
I am a brother, but I am not a creation of my siblings.
I am a Christian, but I am not a creation of my religion.
I am a student, but I not a creation of my teachers.
I am a teacher, but I am not a creation of my students.
I am educated, but I am not a creation of my education.
I am male, but I am not a creation of my gender.
I am a Mexican-European-American, but I am not a creation of my race or my ethnicity.
I am a Minnesotan, but I am not a creation of my state.

In one sense, I am the confluence of dozens, if not hundred, of stories. But I am more than just the confluence of these stories, I am responsible for sorting these stories. I must decide to own or disown them, to allow or disallow their infleunce, to weigh their significance, and to decide which of these stories I will let go further stream.

But I am not merely the sorter of inherited stories, I am the author of my own. This authoring is the most importnat part of my life. However, I do no have to author anything. I may choose not to assert my authoring rights and simply allow the strongest of the inherited stories be my story. I could choose to be passive. I could choose to add nothing to the inheritance I received for the inheritance I am giving. I could just play the role I am supposed to play in the strongest story given me.

Or I could write.

I want to be a person who authored something in life, who contributed something of unique worth, something of value which is more than the sum of my inherited stories. I want to respect and gather in all I can from my inherited stories, but not be controlled by them. I want to be aware of their presence in great detail, but I want to use them as tools for writing my narrative.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Best Is No More

Hearing the news today that Tim Russert collapsed and died was fully unbelievable. He was the best politcal news commentator, moderator, and question-asker - period.

The way he approached political commentary and reporting gave politics the energy of a good sporting event without demeaning or degrading the importance of the subject. Russert was smart, insightful and most of all totally fair.

He was so engaged with the topic of politics, it so intrigued him that it was next to impossible for his enthusiasm to be avoided. He was completely contagious.

Tim, you will be missed sorely this historic election year. I so looked forward to your words about Obama and McCain as they drew nearer to election day. I was counting on you to ask questions which made me think, "Yeah, that's what I wanted to know."

Good-bye, Tim.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

30 mpg? BS

I want to go on record that I am insulted by TV commercials that tout 30 MPG cars as efficient. What a crock. Only two vehicles sold in the US get over 40 mpg, and those are hybrids. In Europe, the AVERAGE mpg is 40. In the US it half that - 20 mpg.

When the technology is available right now to get 100 mpg, why are we bragging about 30 mpg? When is the ever-suffering Detroit ever, EVER going to get a clue that Americans don't want 30 mpg, they want 100 mpg? If Detriot would ever have the courage to get out of bed with oil companies it would benefit the entire world, Americans first. If Detroit made a real commitment to the electrification of transportation, the world would follow. But you know what, Japan is going to do it - and the world will follow.

Detroit is gutless.
Politicians are either too gutless or self-defeatingly idealistic.
Americans are too complacent to rally.

The Problem With Democrats

OK, this problem is the same with Republicans as well, but I am mad at the Democrats today.
A bill failed today that would have eliminated government subsidies to oil and gas companies. But they just couldn't leave it at that. They had to overplay their hand and try to tack on a tax on profits.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with these policies. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that oil companies clearing 100 billion dollars a year need even more money. Why should oil companies get money from me via their mark up on their product (some of which is fine) and through the tax code (which is nothing less than thievery)?

Democrats have vastly overestimated their power. This always happens in politics. I am pretty sure that eliminating the subsidies would have passed, but they had to go and sabotage their own efforts. Oh sure, they will blame the Republicans, but is it worth the headline and the soundbite in order to lose legislatively?

It was arrogant to overplay their hand. Democrats, if you really want my vote (and you have a pretty good chance at getting it life long Republican) then you had better get smarter and whole lot humbler than you are now. Please do as much as you can, not as much you want. Don't let your idealism paralyze you with nothing to show for it besides a bunch of noxious whining and blaming. Legislate intelligently, patiently, and skillfully.

For example, go for the subsidies now and then go for the tax increase on windfall profits in two years.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cardboard Confessional

Click here to see the Cardboard Confessional - worth all 8 minutes.

(ht Preacher Mike)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama Makes History

Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for president. This is an historic event. An African-American is the nominee of president of a major political party. This is a great day for America. No matter if he wins or loses the presidency, he has changed America forever.

Now we can have a different conversation about race. Now we can have a different conversation about power. We can no longer think certains things cannot or shoud not happen.

Obama is the voice of hope. He is the voice of courage. He is the voice of unification, despite his liberal leanings. He is willing to talk to anyone. He will work with Republicans, he will talk with conservatives. He will be gracious.

America, I am so proud of you.

Friday, May 30, 2008

This may be risky

If you are a reader of my blog who is a member, was a member, or is interested in or has some connection to the Churches of Christ of the American Restoration Movement, then click here and tell me if this is worth it.

Achtung Baby

What is the cost of paying attention to something that has no value or something that you do not care about?

What is the cost of doing this frequently?

I have a problem. I am curious and interested in many, many things. That's not the problem. The problem is that I have a hard time getting over my initial fascination with something such that it is eventually discarded. It just lingers in my emotional space. It take up space on my psychological hard drive.

I have a hard time prioritizing what it is that I care about. I think that it is safe to say that I actually care about fewer things than I am interested in. It is also safe to say that I have hard time differentiating between care and interest.

How do you make decisions about what to pay attention to and how do you actually pull it off?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Happened

I find the story of Scott McClellan (Bush's former press Secretary) to be a fascinating and sobering one. His new book, What Happened, is not the story I am talking about, per se. The story I am talking about is the story of a man wrapped in a story.

It seems to me that McClellan wants to be a good man and tries to be a good man by way of the virtue of trust. Trust is essential in relationships, as I have made mention of before, but without wisdom, trust is vulnerable to be the means by which someone is led down a road a great evil. Trust is vulnerable to the story it finds itself in.

McClellan made the case with Meredith Viera on the Today Show that he was essentially within a story, a narrative which was powerful and convincing. As I listened to him explain what it was like to be within that story - to be part of that story - I had compassion on him. He was so into the story that his trust of the narrative, his trust of the storytellers themselves really, clouded his judgment. In an effort to be good by way of trust, he found, upon further reflection, that he was actually evil by way of trust.

Naive? A dupe? Maybe, but I think it is more complex than that. He is trying to be a good man in the best way he knows. The story he kept hearing, the storytellers he kept listening to, were so believable that he believed them. Not believing them meant violating his own virtue. Not exactly a good place to be in.

He appears to be coming clean in this book. But I just don't think he is outside of the story. Oh, he may be outside of the Bush story, but he is now entangled in another unwholesome story. The publishing business has a narrative as well. I think he is trying to be good by telling his story, finally, but I believe the publishing narrative has sucked him in. He said on national TV that his publisher is not profit motivated. His publisher is his new storyteller. They most likely wrapped his book deal in all kinds of virtuous language. McClellan is doing good in the wrong direction once again.

But I have compassion for him because I must now reflect on the stories being told to me and who the storytellers are that I listen to. McClellan's story is everyone's story. Is there anyone who knows truth so clearly, so perfectly, so unbiased that they can bypass the way a story is told? Can anyone control for the bias of the storyteller? Can we even identify the storytellers in our lives - or do we just know things and know truth? I don't do this very well if at all. Do you?

This world is a place where at least a few truths exists and there is an onslaught of lies being told about the truth. Almost everything we hear, see, and experience is a story being told by a stroyteller. We are not only wrapped in layers and layers of narratives, we are writing a bit of our own, but probably less than we think we are.

Courage and wisdom are the keys to writing a truly honest narrative as opposed to parroting the narratives packaged by the storytellers out there.

I pray for this kind of courage and wisdom.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Identity Development

A few months ago, I was walking in a very ordinary place for me to be walking, a place which has become quite familir to me over the past couple years. Only on this one specific time when I walked through this place, a unique thought entered my mind. It went like this:

"The purpose of my life is to heal and to heal."

Written, this statement looks like it has a grammar problem. It does not. The first "to heal" is the purpose I am moved to which is to heal up my wounds. I am to rest and take care of myself. I am to confront/embrace/carry/transform the grief which lingers two years after my father's death. I am to explore limits, but carefully. I am to acknowledge the self-defeating messages stuffed in the cracks of my life and expose them. I am to walk when I don't believe I can. I am to find my loneliness and give it a friend. I have much healing to do.

The second "to heal" has to do with my relationship with other people. I am to find ways to help others do what I am doing. In fact, I am to do my healing with other wounded people. My healing helps their healing and their healing helps my healing. I am to heal with healing people.

It is not within my realm to accomplish anything fully prior to beginning to help others begin accomplishing their goals, their healing. I must be doing it myself in order to be doing it with them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I don't like gas at $4.00 a gallon as much as the next person. I am also going to be the one who admits that I do not understand the complexities of market forces as it relates to resource scarcity. So, anything I say here is not to be taken as fact or even informed hypothesizing. This is more or less supposing and chasing a what if.

So, let's consider that China and India are consuming more oil there are refining strains. Let's also assume that the idea that carbon emmissions are actually hurting the earth is being taken seriously be more and more politicians - even George Bush. Let's also assume that it is possible that George Bush understands how power mechanisms work, especially within a market system.

OK, with all of that in place, is it possible that Bush has seen a "win-win" for all parties involved (or maybe himself) as it relates to the oil industry?

There are many who take on the view that the solution to high gas prices is high gas prices. Moral or environmental arguments do not work as quickly or as broadly as economic motivation. Pocket book arguments (raise gas prices) is more convincing than any of these other arguments.

Let's assume Bush recognizes the power mechanism of economic motivation and allows prices to rise by not putting any real pressure on the supply side of oil (fake requests to Saudis for more oil), not actively promiting new exploration, having no energy policy, allowing oil companies to ride on the tail of oil speculators to artificially inflate oil prices, and at the same time throw out stimulus money which will only go right back into the oil industry.

At the same time as Bush is actively and passively asstintg oil prices to rise, he can talk green and promote new technologies. He can act on both sides of the issue. He can say "we're addicted to oil" as if that were bad and then help fill oil industry leader's pockets.

So for Bush it is win-win. If high gas prices are the cure for high gas prices because they motivate conservation and new non-oil dependent technologies, Bush can take credit for promoting new technology and green living. If, however, high gas prices do not promote new technology, Bush and sit back with his oil buddies taking in their congratulations for the boon.

Since Bush's approval rating couldn't get any lower than it is already, from his perspective, there is nothing to lose.

OK, that is oil for dummies. Any thoughts?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Minnehaha Falls

This is Minnehaha Falls. It is located in a huge park inside the Minneapolis city limits. Minnehaha Creek flows from Lake Minnetonka (a Minneapolis suburb) to the Mississippi River, the border of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Now, how many major cities can boast a waterfall of this magnitude within its city limits? This is just the kind of thing that keeps Minnesotans in Minnesota. It is such a great place to be.

The park was packed today. The smell of chicken, hamburger, and bratwurst smoking on the grills filled the air. People gathered around picnic tables, laughing and smiling, glad they were not at work or attending to daily problems. The aroma, enticing, whetted our appetites for our own grilling activites, which were a few hours away.

There is an area below the falls and down the creek a little ways that widens and shallows enough to wade in and play in. This is also the place where there is an annual baptismal service for Solomon's Porch. It is a really cool venue for such an event.
The kids loved the creek and played in it.
Today was a good day. Nature. Family. Play.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

AI: George Michael

Well, I picked the wrong David as the AI winner. Curses! Oh well, anyway, Good Luck David Cook. Congrats!

My favorite part of the show was George Michael. He sang which is by far his best and most thoughtful and critical songs - Praying for Time.

Although he appeared to have some earpiece trouble and didn't sing it his best (though his voice still sounds like him unlike Barry Gibb's train wreck last year), he still has a sense about him that there could be redemption for him. He has had so much trouble in his life, much of his own making. I imagine that this is man who suffers from his own demons and yet rallies with tremendous courage. I like that he is making an attempted comback. There is sensitive kind of heroism about this man.

You see, when George Michael tries, he has an incredible sense of contriteness, justice and, raw honesty. Certainly his Listen Without Prejudice album tops all others. I was glad to see him sing his best and most thoughtful song in front of his biggest audience ever. He brought Paula to tears (arguably not really a good measure for anything) and showed that he may still have a soul.

If you click on the Amazon MP3 button on the top of the right sidebar you can get a flavor for the best of George Michael's best music. Below are some lyrics that give me some hope. You could intepret them as the prayer of a man broken before God.

Waiting (Reprise)

Well there ain't no point in moving on
Until you've got somewhere to go
And the road that I have walked upon
Well it filled my pockets
And emptied out my soul

All those insecurities
That have held me down for so long
I can't say i've found a cure for these
But at least i know them
So they're not so strong

You look for your dreams in heaven
But what the hell are you supposed to do
When they come true?
Well there's one year of my life in the songs
And some of them are about you

Now i know there's no way i can write those wrongs
Believe meI would not lie you've hurt my pride
And I guess there's a road without you
But you once said
There's a way back for every man
So here i am
Don't people change, here i am

Is it too late to try again

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AI: Archuletta

Below is my April 4th prediction for AI. I think I nailed it.

Apr 4th, 2008 at 12:30 am
Archeleta wins, but David Cook will be more famous a year from now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reflections On Trust

I am sure that most people would agree that trust is a very important part of a relationship. Whether it be between romantic partners, friends, parents and children, or individuals and organiztions, trust is essential for good relational functioning. Good communication, closeness, knoweldge of the other, and kindness are all important as well. But I think trust is different.

In relationships, trust acts more like an operating system than a regular piece of software. If trust "crashes," everything else is not going to work right if it works at all. Trust is integrated into every other aspect of a relationship. Without it, the other aspects of the relationship, the other relationship software, does not run.

Thus, I believe trust is more important, more basic, more foundational than any other relationship quality.

Any thoughts on trust in relationships by the geniuses?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gonzalez The Mighty Norwegian

When I tell people that I am part Mexican, there is little surprise. I have dark hair, brown eyes, and brown skin (I tan pretty easy).

And yet when I tell people that I am Norwegian, there is usually a snicker. It is the kind of snicker that one gets when they are intentionally saying something that is untrue for ironic effect. The truth is that I am not any more Mexican than I am Norwegian or German. Sure, I get it that my Danish and Czech is not so obvious as I have less Dane and Czech blood than the others. But because my name is Gonzalez and I have darker features than most really White people, it is humorous to many people when I say that I am more European than I am Mexican, even though to say anything else would be false.

I have learned how to blow off, roll with, or dodge just about any comment, snicker, or response (outside of that one violent response I may talk about in another post) that comes my way. I have been socialized through two generations on my fathers side of the family on how to be an attempted-White and from countless generations on my mother's side of the family on how to be White.

I am the Whitest Mexican there is. And yet there are these times when I feel like I am not afforded a category - White or Mexican. There is no Whitican or Mexiwhite. And furthermore, I do not want such words to be invented. They sound weird. The need for such words seems whiny and victimy to me. I guess there is a word called, Tex-Mex, but it refers to food and Texas. Anyway, I just want to say that I find it interesting how powerful the soical construction of cultural identity is.

My grandfather intentionally tried to eliminate all Mexican culture from his family. My father made no effect to bring any Mexican culture into my family of origin such that I thought I was White with an accidental Mexican surname. And still it is funny to people that I am Norgian.

Don' get me wrong, I laugh with them and don't let this cultural idenity thing act as the central operating princinple of my life. At the same time, even in the third generation of the Whitizination of the Gonzalez family, all it takes is one look at me and my name and all of the "effort" means nothing.

Can anyone relate? I would love to hear what you are thinking.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Not Technically ANCOVA

I am up to my ears in a take home statistics exam. It has taken 5 hours to answer five questions. I am only half done.

You know that you are in way too deep when you read in your notes that "due to the interaction of this and that variable, the model is not technically an ANCOVA model." What's worse is that I think I know what that means.

OK, back to the grind.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Coolness For Dummies

There is a time in every father's life when his children no longer consider him cool. I have arrived.

I am coaching my son's 6-7 year old, coach pitch baseball team. Today was the first practice. This is a co-ed league, so this team is half girls and half boys. I did some groundball practice with the girls. My ten-year-old, approaching-adolescence-faster-than-she-should-be, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter was watching from behind the backstop.

As I threw some groundballs to these girls, I was encouraging them playfully ("the ball is not the boss of you" and "go to the ball because the ball won't find you") and in batting practice I told them that "the ball has no feelings, so you can hit it as hard as you want."

After the practice I was having a drink of water in the kitchen and my 10 year old daughter says, "Dad, you were kind of cheesy with those girls in practice today."

"Hey," I said in defence, "I am cool to six year olds."

"Yes," she agreed with a sarcastic tone, "like you learned that in 'coolness for Dummies.'"

What can be said against that?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Postmodernism and Lying

Postmodernism, in its most explicit form, not only questions the existence of truth, but proclaims its non-existence. Let's set aside the paradox that one cannot make a proposition that there are no truths and have that proposition be true. Instead, let's look at this from another, more practical, perspective.

If there is no truth, then there are no lies. Certainly, if we remain in the relam of philosophy and not in the realm of practicality, a case can be made that there are no lies. However, consider what the response is when you are on the receiving end of a lie. Little else brings out your sense of truth, your sense of right and wrong than being the recipient of a lie.

Lies are so damaging to relationships. Lies rupture trust, throw into question how a relationship will progress, and perhaps forever change the relationship even with forgiveness because once there has been a lie in the relationship, there can never not have been a lie in the relationship. You know that there is the capacity for a lie to be executed in that relationship.

In a bizarre twist of irony, lies may provide some of the best evidence for the existence of truth.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Painlessly invest $9000 in micorloans (for free)

I love the Kiva way of microloans. It is extremely easy to begin with practically no risk. I also like the idea that I can put some money to work in a place where it can do some real economic good.

There is power in revolving money. So, an investment plan with microloans is a smart idea. You loan the money and it comes back, then you loan it again. Repeat cycle until poverty is erased.

It makes sense to build small monthly amount to invest into your monthly budget. Most people's budgets are tight, but finding a way to shoehorn in $25 per month would be terrific. It would create the habit and then when there is more money from that raise or from tax returns or stimulus money, then you can up it.

Here is a modest attempt at a plan for people without tons of extra money:
Year 1: $25/month = $300/Year = $300total ivestment
Year 2: $25/month = $300/Year = $600total investment
Year 3: $50/month = $600/Year = $1200total investment
Year 4: $50/month = $600/Year = $1800total investment
Year 5: $75/month = $900/Year = $2700 total investment
Year 6: $75/month = $900/Year = $3600total investment
Year 7: $100/month = $1200/Year = $4800 total investment
Year 8: $100/month = $1200/Year = $6000 total investment
Year 9: $125/month = $1500/Year = $7500 total investment
Year 10: $125/month = $1500/Year = $9000 total investment

Now, (and here is the "for free" part) this $9,000 is still yours. Since you loaned it out, you got it back when it was repaid.

At the end of 10 years, you have essentially used Kiva and microloans as a savings acount. Granted, it gains no interest and there is a small chance that you could lose some money (Maybe 3%). However, you have to consider the work that the $9,000 has been doing over those 10 years is worth more to the people in poverty that used it than to the bank you would have kept it in or the coffees you would have bought with it.

Furthermore, it appears that micorloans are a safer investment than real estate and stock market in these insecure economic times.

Of course, you can keep loaning that $9000 and you can keep adding to it. In a lifetime, keeping the pattern of increases with the plan above, you could have over $100,000 dollars in perpetual motion, working hard for hard working families in need.

Using Kiva as a socially responsible savings account is an idea whose time has come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


1. Provide a list of the books you’re currently reading.

a) Statistical Methods for Psychology - David Howell
b) Soul Searching - Christian Smith
c) Soul Searching - William Doherty
d) The Ethnographic I - Carolyn Ellis
e) Divergent Realities - Reid & Larson

2. Pick up the nearest book.

Using Multivariate Statistics - Tabachnick & Fidell

3. Open to page 123

4. Find the fifth sentence.

5. Post the next three sentences.

Here we go: "With more IVs than cases, one can fnd a regression solution that completely predicts the DV for each case, but only as an artifiactof the cases-to-IV ratio. Required sample size depends on a number of issues, including desired power, alpha level, number of predictors, and effects sizes. Green (1991) provides a thorough discussion of the issues an dsome procedures to help decide how many cases are necessary. "

6. Tag five more people.

Blog In My Own Eye
On Becoming Truer
Light and Salt
Changing Tides
Phil Wilson

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Harmonies of Beautiful Amnesia

Frozen land's inevitible surrender;
"Snowfrosticeslush - EVACUATE!"
Sun, now insurrmountable;
Relentless warmth;
Knowing smile;
Sun sings, and,
Cold scurries away like guilty bugs.

Hearing Suns-shine,
Seeds, pods, bulbs, and friends
Shuffle and grunt submerged in mudbeds.

"Awake! Arise! Come sing with me!"

Irresistible call; irrestible song.

Struggling, pressing, straining, growing;
Former seeds all aroot and prepared;
Longing to see the Singer.

Waiting ends.

Pressing from beneath;
Breaking the surface;
Daffodil, Tulip, Iris emerge;
Colorizing, harmonizing - a beautiful amnesia;
Grass and Clover - entourage;
Spring choral delights;
Singer smiles.

This poem was written in celebration of my daughter's 10th birthday.

Fajita's Blog For Sale

This website is worth

What is your website worth?
You could enjoy all of the fame and glory of being the owner of this blog.
If you act RIGHT NOW (Billy Mays voice) this blog could be yours for half price. That's right, only $42,000 and it is all yours.
I am poor doctoral student looking for cash and that is why I can unload this blog for so cheap.
Don't wait too long! There is only 1 blog in stock and it will go the first legitimate buyer.
Potential buyers, please leave a comment indicating your interest.
Restrictions and Warnings: Microsoft, Google, Apple and other majors internet and technology companies are not eligible to purchase Fajita's Blog at the discount rate because you own too much of my life already, but I would welcome a corporate bidding war. This offer is only for the serious fan, friends of mine, faithful readers, faithful lurkers, or blog-stalkers. Cash only, and no bartering. No blog swapping as I cannot pay my bills with blogs. Do not make fun of me for selling my blog or bad things will happen to you. Do not taunt my blog or blogs like it. Blogs can be unstable and explode without warning. Do not try to start your own blog and make it worth more than this blog and then try to sell it to me because I can not afford your blog. The point here is that I get a load of cash from the deal and you get a highly functional and well-established blog.

Family Formation Project

Click here to see a report by WCCO Channel 4 news in the Twin Cities about the Family Formation Project. The 3 minute video is located on the right side of the page and worth taking a look at.

More about the Family Formation Project is located here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

AI: Jason Castro

Somewhere over the rainbow?
Well, nice ukulele playing.

Castro, you are too weak.

My wife just said, "that was cute." Perfect.

Randy just said that Jason was blazing, smoking, hot. Paula - blah, blah, blah. Simon got it wrong. Castro might not make it this week.

AI: Syesha

Syesha just picked a song by a previous American Idol winner. Bad strategy.
She is doing a good job, but how do you outdo a previous idol.

I like her poofy fro.

Nice high note.

Good job, but was it better than Fantasia?

Randy is MR. Critical tonight. Paula, must you speak? Must you wear this tube sock? Simon ad it EXACTLY right.

AI: Michael Johns

Peformer: Michael Johns
Song: Dream On

Not your best, my friend. This is the reason why you are not going to win. I have never believed that you are going to be the next American Idol.

Sorry. You'll make it tonight, but not all the way.

AI: Paula, oh come on

Paula is wearing a very scary dress.

Decade 1 - Check

a wonderful, intelligent, generous, kind, hilarious, beautiful, big-hearted, young woman is now 10 years old.
Accomplishing a decade of life, no matter which decade, is worth celebrating.
Sierra has a sharp and generous sense of humor, a keen sense of irony, and thirst for knolwedge. She reads and writes constantly. Life, for her, is a learning experience.
We love you, Sierra. Happy Birthday

Monday, April 07, 2008

Refreshed - Psalm 105

A good night's sleep and a good morning read of Psalm 105 has me refreshed.

Apparently it takes me at least two days to recover from exhaustion.

What I like about Psalm 105 is that it says that there is reason to celebrate, there is cause for joy. It is an account of what God did for the wandering Isreallites. When God lead Isreal out of slavery from Egypt and through the desert, He gave them an extended experience which effectively changed their identity from slave to free. Such an identity change is not easy and does just show up when freedom shows up.

People in slavery have such a controlled and oppressed life that thinking free is a challenge. Thinking often moves to survival from the oppressor, from despair, from meaninglessness. There is little room for a free identity for the slave. Just thinking about freedom is a courageous act of defiance. And with little encouragement from anyone or evidence that such thinking could ever become reality, the longer one is in slavery, the more courageous the thoughts of freedom become.

Instant freedom, like the kind Israel experienced, required a sort of freedom training. It also required protection. A people who have only known slavery and a people without much power and a people who have no place of their own are vulnerable to being oppressed again. Psalm 105 speaks of how God protected Israel when she was most vulnerable.

Gettting a reminder of God's love and protection and vision for a better future has given me some peace this morning.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Soggy Soul

There are days when the planets line up and everything goes your way. You know, the kind of days when the wind blows in just the right direction and gives your nose a blessing of fragrant Spring flowers or savory steak sizzling on the neighbor's grill. These days are the days when the sun is shining, you say all the right things, and people can't believe how funny you are. On these days you can eat too much pizza while not gaining any weight and having no acid reflux. Energy is plentiful, the mind thinks with perfect clarity, and if someone were to ask you about solutions to third world poverty, you would give an impressive philosophical, political, and methodological answer which would inspire someone to say, "you should run for office."

I love those days.

Today is not one of them. Not even close. Today I feel soggy, listless, tired, and without much to offer. Don't ask me any questions because no matter what you ask, my answer will probably not make much sense. It is rainy outside and a debilitating grey in every direction. My mind protests any requests for deep thinking or decision making. You know something is not going well when the Kia commercial with the song, "Just Can't Get It Right Today" has a really good ring to it.

I think I have a handle on this thing, though. Rather, I think I know why I am feeling this way. I have the following factors working on me:
1. Post-deadline let down (the presentation went well),
2. 2nd year anniversary of father's death,
3. It's April,
4. Lousy weather,
5. Major paper (exam) coming due in a few weeks,
6. Looming dissertation decisions (lots of ideas and few decisions)
7. Take home statistics test is currently being ignored (but not due until Thursday),
8. Still, it is April,
9. I have tried to find a new pair of jeans and have failed twice in a week. I am not that hard to please. Am I really so oddly shaped?
10. Maybe I am oddly shaped. When I feel so lousy, I notice my weight. I've got a couple dozen pounds I'd like to give that super skinny person who has already completed their statistics exam.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


If it were not for deadlines, I would never get anything completed.
If it were not for deadlines I would have a lot less stress.
Having deadlines, ironically, means I am alive and useful to the world.
I have a big deadline tomorrow in the form of a presentation. I am glad I have it for the project has forced me to think and plan.
I will be glad when it is over because I will rest this weekend.

T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month. He must have been in graduate school when he wrote that. So, any rest in April is a luxury.

Monday, March 31, 2008

In The Ground For Two Years

Today marks two years since we buried my father. A late March snowstorm is bearing down on us here in Minnesota - half a foot and it's still coming. It makes sense to me. Winter seems to hang on for too long - longer than it has a right to be present.

In a sense, I too have been in the ground for two years. Only it is my task to climb out, to live. It is my task to climb out and not die with the dead. Living, for now, is my task.

I have climbed through fear, fruastration, incoherence, confusion, anxiety, failure, humiliation - the muck of living. I have slipped and fallen, gulped in some sludge and nearly drown. Loneliness is so much a part of grief.

I have also seen Hope. She finds me when I want to be alone, but not really alone. Hope knows me better than I know myself and knows when I need her.

Hope pulls me, hands me a towel, and speaks kindness into my soul.

I don't have my father, but I have Hope.

I can live with Hope.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The State of the Emerging Church

What is up with the emergent church? Click here to learn a little something for a video interview with Tony Jones.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The fun part of Spring Break

Canaan with face painted.

Sierra with face painted.

Sierra & Canaan with cousins Maddie, Ella, & Sam sit with Memaw and Pawpaw. Faces painted by Auntie Sheryl.

Arkansas Flood 2008

Here is a view from the front porch of my in-laws.

Here is the car that should not have even thought about trying to pass.

Here is Gail looking over a the flooded North Branch of the Spring River. Somewhere submerged down there is a bridge.

I took this picture less than 50 yeards from where I was staying.

This picture was taken when the water was "low." Two hours later this sign was long gone.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Parents Are Truth To Children

Parents, until a certain age, your children believe that everything you say and do is right and normal. No one has more to say about the cultural and moral realities about children than parents. You are their truth...until a certain age.

And then there is an age when children can determine truth without you. This is entirely a good thing, a developmental necessity. What you hope as a parent is that when your child learns to determine truth without you, that what you have done up until that point still looks like truth to the child. If your parenting has been untrue in the early years, the children will likely spend the rest of his or her life unlearning you. The process of unlearning a person is painful for all involved and is likely to have poor relational outcomes.

Now, there is hope for parents who have done poorly when their children were younger. Own the wrongs. Not always, but often, when children become adults, they can forgive their parents wrongs when the parent owns those wrongs. Parents who insist that they were great parents when they were not and do not admit their wrongs OR parents who give up to their wrongs and don't even try to change are less likely to find forgiveness.

Here's the take away message: In the early years of childhood, parents are truth. In the later years of childhood and into adulthood, parents are compared to independent ideas of truth. Gross mismatches are damaging. But no matter how bad things have become, there is always redemption in seeking to be a truer person.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Linus Gone Mute

Linus lost his blanket - stolen;
Unfindable blue blanket;
Unfindable forever.
Linus has lonely hands, awakward hands;
Nothing to cling to;
No default;
Nothing, this kind of Nothing, is contagious - spreading
Arms swing wrong;
Legs walk wrong.
Linus can't see what's there.
No, he can see, but what is It?
Every single Thing...
A differently shaped It.
When all is an It, familiar vocabulary fails;
New vocabulary hides.
Linus has gone mute.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Truth About Doug Pagitt

There has been some controversy over the years over the pastor of my church, Doug Pagitt.
Some have called him a heretic.
Some have called him unchristian.
Some have called him a universalist, with a tone of disdain.
Some kinder people have called him a good person.

But I think that his pastor/heretic/unchristian/universalist/good person roles are just a cover. All of the controversy is merely a brilliant distraction for what Doug is really all about.

I shouldn't do this, but here is a photo that reveals the truth about Doug Pagitt.

Some have tried to prove that Doug and Mr. Incredible are different people. You've got to do better than a googlefight to prove this.

Can anyone out there prove that Doug Pagitt is not Mr. Incredible?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If you're a praying person...

Hey all, I got word today that my neice has been having seizures. This is a recent development and naturally is of great concern. Her younger brother had epileptic seizures not long ago and is now treated with medication. This may or may not be the same thing.

If you are a praying person, please pray for my neice.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Fighting Against Injustice - You Can Help

One of my professors (Dr. Waymon Hison) from my masters programs back in the day at Abilene Christian Univeristy (ACU)began a good work in advocating for Black farmers in the south. These farmers have been and continue to be getting a raw deal when interacting with government. They are discriminated against frequently - YES, in this day and age it is going on.

His work has grown and it has really become a tremendous mission. He blogs about it here. He has involved students in some direct ways. His involvement of students in this project is important because these students will have an experience with social justice that they will carry with them into their careers, churches, and families. Students getting involved in social justice has powerful implications for the future.

Dr. Hinson is taking several ACU students to a conference in North Carolina, but he needs your help in getting the students from Abilene, Texas to North Caroline and back. If you have frequent flier miles from American Airlines or any other carrier that can and are willing to donate, please e-mail Dr. Hinson and let him know. He estimates each student needing 25,000 miles in order to make it work.

National Black Farmers Association

Friday, January 18, 2008

Juno: A Movie Review

Go and see Juno.

Listening to the story of teenage pregnancy from Juno's perspective gave a sense of authenticity. Somehow this story was super touching and felt real at the same time. The complexity of relationships and family life are exposed, the vulnerable teenage questions are asked, the goodness of flawed people shines through the confusion of human life.

The politics of this hot-button issue was set as merely background noise and bascially neutralized while attention centered on the difficult decisions Juno faced with her body, relationships, and future. Every relationship she had was renegotiated beautifully, but genuinely. Juno never quit being Juno, but also kept finding ways to be a better version of herself.

Juno is a story about chances and second chances for a lot of people - not just Juno. It is story about redemption and providence. It is a story about hidden things that cannot remain hidden and why that is a really good thing. It is a story that doesn't just get you all cleaned up at the end and ready to go, but rather helps you to feel like there is some good in the honest dirt of life.

You will fall in love with Juno - you just won't be able to help it.

How to eat milled flax seed

Bury it in hot steaming oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon and loads of honey. Throw a little wheat germ in there while you're at it. A little skim milk does not hurt.
Why milled flax seed?
Follow this with a fish oil, a multivitamin, and potassium glutamate chaser and your heart will love you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to tell me happy birthday

I am 38 years old today.

The best way to wish me a happy birthday today is to go to this link and donate, even a little bit, to Wyatt's cause.

I have lived 38 years autism free. Wyatt, and many others, have not live one minute that way.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Little Something

I wish a lot of churches would do this.

A pie chart that does not lie.

World's first rock, paper, scissors.

My favorite election coverage and political blog.

Excerpts from The New Christians are located here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Walkin' For Wyatt


Click here for an article in the local paper about Wyatt. It is a little dated, but can fill in the story of Wyatt. He is now in 2nd grade


If you met Wyatt, my cousin's son, you would like him. Wyatt would make you smile. He is a wonderful and adorable boy. He and my son, Canaan, are in the same class at their elementary school and are good friends. Wyatt works really hard does good work. That is enough for anyone to get some credit.

But what about when someone spends everyday wrestling with autism? What kind of credit does that deserve? When someone wrestles with challenges on a daily basis and makes success, we call it heroic. Wyatt is just that - heroic. Heroic children kind of make you want to support their cause, and their lives. It kind of makes you want to throw youself into their success.

Well Wyatt is interested in helping other kids with autism. He is inviting as many people as possible to join him in his effort.

Well, here is my chance to support this little, big-hearted hero and I hope it is yours chance as well.

The following e-mail I received from my cousin explains how you can support Wyatt's heroic efforts:

I just wanted to ask if any of you would like to sponsor Wyatt and our family in the Autism Society Steps for Hope Walk. We are trying to raise money for the Autism Society of Minnesota. We have been truly blessed with how much Wyatt has accomplished and will accomplish. We want to extend those chances to as many kids as possible. One in every 150 kids born today will be diagnosed with autism. We know the hopeless feeling that accompanies that diagnosis. Through our efforts, we want to make these families know they do not walk alone.

Donate Here. Also, look to the right sidebar with Wyatt's fundraising progress. Let's help Wyatt help lots of children with autism.

Family Time

My wonderful wife told me that I should do family blog posts like my brother-in-law does. So I guess that makes Brandon much cooler than I am. This post is an attempt to increase my coolness with my wife.
Here's a rare shot of a Minnesota Polar Bear. I can't believe I actually got a chance to get a picture like this. This is so rare and I got it!!!
Ok, I confess, this is the Polar Bear at the Como Park Zoo.
Sierra and Canaan at the Como Park Conservatory. It is a terrific escape from winter - if you think winter is something that needs some escaping from.

All of us drinking warm beverages just before the Holidazzle Christmas Parade on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.

Canaan and Sierra at "The Nutcracker" at the downtown Minneapolis Macy's. Think magical walk-thru story book and you almost get how super cool this annual Christmas tradition is.

Canaan wears a beat poet turtle neck and sips punch at his 2nd grade "Poetry and Punch."

Sierra sang in a Christmas choir at school.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I was the drummer for ZZ Top... my dream last night.

Does it have anything to do with being in graduate school?

In my dream I landed the gig of drummer for ZZ Top in order to fill in for one night. Who knows what happened to their real drummer? At this point in their career, the band had pulled a Charlie Daniels and gone Christian.

So, they were getting set up at this megachurch somewhere in middle America. Sound checks and testing of equipment and all that was going on when I arrived on the scene. I walked down the aisle to where the stage was set and I saw the drumset I was to play later than night. It was a big and shiny drumset (with classic ZZ Top furry stuff on it), the best one I had ever seen in my life. It was centered on the stage for everyone to see. I would be flanked by the two bearded gutarists.

Above and slightly behind the set was a huge screen with the titles of the songs we were to play that night. "Good News," "God," "Gospel Rock," "More God." The song titles were exactly what you might think former southern rockers who had been around the drugs and alcohol block about a hundred time and then suddely turned Christian might title their songs.

There was an excitement brewing as more tech people and stage hands made the set look more and more ready for a show. The sun was setting, it was near evening, and soon people would be arriving to see the show.

In the dream, I never knew how I got to be invited to be the drummer for ZZ Top. We had no prior connection. I'd never met anyone in the band or associated with the band. I was just there and knew I had agreed to be their drummer for the night.

Why I never mentioned the fact that I don't know how to drum is the most perplexing part of the dream. My anxiety surged as the time neared to put on the show. There was a voice screaming in my mind, "Tell them you can't drum! You can still get out of this." But I didn't listen to it. Time was drawing near, but I just couldn't utter the words. The inevitible humiliation was poised to swallow me whole.

And then it was the next day and I was at a Sunday morning church service at the very same megachurch I was supposed to perform at the night before. The service had yet to begin and people were milling about and I saw Spence Smith (perhaps this Spence Smith), also milling about. In my dream (and was it also in real life?) Spense was a very talented drummer. I couldn't believe I saw him and was so excited to tell him something. I told him that I wished I had seen him the night before because I could have landed him a terrific gig with the newly Christianized ZZ Top.

Spence was uninterested, depressed, and hungover (not at all like the real life Spense Smith). He had the skills and talent, but too much was in his way to ever be interested in doing something like that. He shrugged and didn't really want to talk.

The dream ended without any sense that I did actually drum that night with ZZ Top, and if I did, how poorly I performed.

What is clear is that I survived the situation enough to make it to church with a relatively in tact self-esteem.

All of you dream interpreters out there, give it to me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

He Would Be 61

My dad would have turned 61 today. Today marks the second birthday of his we have had to miss because of his death. I took a canvass chair out to the cemetary, stuck it in the melting snow next to his grave stone, slouched down on it and wept.

It's a warm day for January in Minnesota. Forty-one degrees gets the snow to melting pretty fast. It rained a little as well. It was the kind of light sprinkle that makes you think or even say, "Is it raining?" It was the perfect day to visit dad at the cemetary.

Were he alive still today, we would have eaten pizza, watched a football game, and talked about politics. I would have asked him if he thought America could be grown up enough to have a Black man or a woman as president and he would have spoken cynically to both sides of the issues, but being careful not to offend his idea of how Republican I am - even though he would be mistaken.

I would have asked him his opinion on what I should do for a supporting progam in my PhD program. He wouldn't be able to offer any good advice in specific, but he would have made me feel great just for being in a PhD prgram.

We would have downed too many cans of Diet Pepsi, eaten too much pizza and laughed a bit - maybe a lot. My wife and kids would have been there part of the time, but not all of it. It would have been a good day.

But none of that is going to happen. The days of the constant work of repair with my father are over. The constant work of repair means that we were making up for lost time in little things like having conversations about this and that. These conversations, no matter what they were about, would wear away at his regret for being a lousy father when I was younger and being a somewhat incapable father when I was older. They were his chance to release some guilt and my chance to connect.

I love my father and always have. There were times when I hated him and loved him with equal intensities and at the very same time, but I never didn't love him.

My love for him today comes in the form of missing him, of feeling a sense of dread at times when I am stressed out, of telling stories about him to my children. This love is not so pleasant at times and there is this little piece of me that wishes I never cared. But the larger, wiser, spiritual part of me holds no regrets. If the truth about the Spirit is that only through love there can be redemption, then love is worth every bit of pain connected to it.