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.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

...and then this came out

"You know, you'd think it would be easy for a guy to know himself, but it is getting more difficult. Don't kids always think that adults have arrived? Human development theory says you get all of this identity stuff sorted out in adolescence, but I don't believe it. If God has set eternity in our hearts, as it says somewhere in the good book, then who are we to think that we can sort ourselves out? What little we solve in moments of insight and moments of integration gives us only enough sense to finally recognize that complexity which we could never have understood as complexity prior to the insight.

Perhaps this is learning the depth of one's identity, perhaps it is the unraveling of one's identity and experienced as anxiety, perhaps it is what it means to be fallen, perhaps it is what it means to be redeemed one little piece at a time.

All I know is that when I hang on to the idea that I am going to arrive at some sort of permanent identity, full of peace and immutable, it is an invitation for disappointment, disillusionment, and fear. When I find the courage within me to embrace the unknown (of this world and of myself and of God) and release my felt responsibility to always and only succeed, then I do much better."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008