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Showing posts from July, 2011

A Pretty Neat Gift

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About a year ago, I had just returned from a vacation with my family to Wyoming. It was a great time in many ways, but it was not restful at all. When you have 3 kids of single-digit age, it's hard to find a way to truly relax. They just want to go, go, go. I don't regret that we didn't chill out that week, but I knew that what I needed was something quiet and relaxing, even if only for a day.

The thought occurred to me that what I really needed was a long drive. But how in the world was I going to accomplish that? I did what I wish I would do more often when I realize I need something: I prayed about it. And not long after, I had a work trip planned to my company's facility in Maryland. As a new manager, my boss told me I should take some management courses, and I found one that was being held in Arlington, Va, just outside of Washington. It was a one-day course. Afterward, I would drive 3 hours south to Pokomoke City, MD, to our plant, and meet the people who I suppo…

Book Review: George Washington Carver

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John Perry's biography of George Washington Carver sheds a revealing light on one of the more under-appreciated men in American history.  By "revealing", I mean that there is a lot more to Carver than peanuts.  From Carver's humble beginnings as a baby born to a slave who was later kidnapped, to the end of his life as a respected scientist, I learned many things I simply was not aware of.
Yes, he found over a hundred uses of the peanut (a tremendous feat in itself), but he also listed many non-peanut-related accomplishments on his resume.
Carver's life was nothing less than a never-ending obstacle course. He had to fight through the kidnapping of his mother, his own physical ailments due to premature birth, racism on a scale we are not exposed to in 21st-century America, lawlessness, very limited educational opportunities, threats of lynchings, and other very real threats to black men of that time.
Despite the daunting circumstances, Carver accomplished more th…

Songs I Am No Longer Ashamed Of

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I confess: There was a time in my life that I developed an affliction known as music snobbery. In my transition from kid to young adult, my musical tastes changed. I went from being a fan of ear candy to a fan of tunes that had to actually have a little substance. My range was all over the place: country to R&B to Rock to New Wave. I loved it all, but I wasn’t into settling for music that pandered or sounded like it was made to be a product rather than art. Posers or slickness were unacceptable.
Because I read articles by, and made friends with, people who felt the same way, I began to put on the self-protective armor of the music snob. I made it clear to everyone I knew that there were a lot of very popular bands which I was way too cool to listen to. That music was for kids and idiots who were too dumb to know they were being duped by singers who knew how to push emotional buttons as a way of selling music.
In large part, this attitude was centered around making myself look cool i…

The Importance of Going For It: a Blind Man Shows Us How

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As the saying goes, some are born great, and some have greatness thrust upon them.  The problem with the latter clause is that some interpret it as a mandate to sit back and wait for things to happen, when the reality is that we all bear a responsibility to use what God has given us, and take the opportunities when they are in front of us. Sometimes, we just have to go for it.

At a recent U2 concert in Nashville, a fan showed a certain level of "go for it!" and it resulted in a magnificent moment that, because we're in the Youtube age, we all get to witness.

As the story goes, a blind fan--Adam Bevell, from Arizona--was wearing a sign saying "Blind Guitar Player" while attending their show on Saturday, July 2. After the last song, the band waved to the audience, then headed out of sight, their evening's mission complete. But out of the corner of his eye, Bono saw the fan and his sign, and did a U-turn toward the fan. Less than 30 seco…

One of the Most Powerful Books You'll Ever Read

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The Booksneeze program allows bloggers to receive free copies of books for review purposes. That's how I got to read "Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me" by Ian Morgan Cron. I say that for two reasons: (1) I'm required by law to disclose that my copy of the book was free; and (2) I am pretty sure I wouldn't have read it if it weren't for Booksneeze. And I would have missed out on reading one of the best books I have ever laid eyes on.

If I were to tell you what this book is about--a middle-aged Episcopal priest recounts his growing up with a dad who was an alcoholic CIA spy, I daresay your interest would fail to rise to a level adequate to convince you to crack this book open. And it doesn't even have a catchy title. Any hope for the success of "Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and me" (success being defined as this book getting the audience it deserves) hinges on one thing: word of mouth. And that's where I come in.

Cron's story is one which…

Feeding the Flesh

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So they had another of those hot-dog eating championships today. Am I the only one bothered by these events? Gluttony is as bad a sin as porn or greed. Indeed, is it not related to both?

Things like this are a slap in the face of the poor people of the world. God has blessed our nation abundantly so that we can share our excess with those who have less than us.

He gives us much more than we need, not for our comfort, but for His purposes. This truth is, to use a handy 4th of July phrase, self-evident. To celebrate our excess with contests where the winner eats 62 hot dogs is as sinful as anything Sodom and Gomorrah ever did.