Friday, May 30, 2008

did you know?

A fun fact about Barack Obama is that he is a long-time smoker. Did you know that? I find that interesting not because it somehow disqualifies him as President, but because most modern-day Democratic Presidential nominee wouldn't be caught dead being a smoker. They would rather be accused of "doing drugs once" in their past. Drugs sit better with the Democratic, anti-tobacco lobby, super-health conscience, vegetarian electorate at the base of the Democratic Party than cigarettes do.

Here is a clip from the news:
Obama told the Chicago Tribune in December 2005 that his smoking is "an ongoing battle," and his cigarette use was, in fact, known during his 2004 Senate campaign, when his wife told the Chicago Sun-Times that he smokes "about three Marlboros a day."

I think it adds a little humanity and earthiness to a candidate that is often making idealistic speeches.

I hope, however, that he quits before becoming President. I just don't like the idea of a smoker President who has to "step outside" of the oval office for cigarette breaks so that he doesn't make the White House smell like a chimney. I also hope he quits for the sake of his daughters who are bound to be affected by the second hand smoke.

Wouldn't it be great to see "President Obama" one day looking over the wreckage left from a hurricane with his sleeves rolled up revealing a "nicotine patch" on his upper arm. I would much rather see that then a stressed out "President Obama" puffing away on a needed cigarette after looking at the hurricane aftermath.

And I wonder how tough Obama can be as a Democratic President on the tobacco lobby when he gets withdrawal if he doesn't have his three Marlboros a day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Obama is not always inspiring

The Onion has done it again. When it comes to spoofing the news, The Onion ranks up there with The Daily Show.

I enjoyed this radio news story about Obama:

Obama Voicemail Message Not That Inspiring

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

meditative motion

The traditional list of spiritual disciplines is something like this: praying, fasting, serving, meditating, studying, solitude, silence, etc. I think I would like to add a new one.

When we were a newly licensed teenage driver, there was nothing quite as fulfilling as driving around with the windows down and the music up. If it was a warm summer evening and our cars were packed full of friends, even better. I don't know what it was about driving with no particular place to go that was so compelling. But when we did it with the windows down, blasting our favorite tunes on a beautiful day, it refreshed our souls.

I think we should recapture that moment today. As many of us get older, have more responsibilities, more bills, kids and spouses, we tend to experience this teenage rite of passage much less if at all. I think our souls suffer for it. We should re-live this experience as adults but in a new way. I think it should become a new spiritual discipline. With a few simple changes, I think it can become a powerful spiritual experience for us.

First, rather than packing friends or family in the car, drive solo. Secondly, make sure the songs you blast into the atmosphere are worship songs. Then drive around town with no particular destination. Put the windows down (and sunroof if you have one) and worship at the top of your lungs. Feel the wind on your face, the acceleration of your car, and the power of worship all dance together in one beautiful moment. Imagine Jesus sitting to your right enjoying the moment with you.

Maybe we can name it the spiritual discipline of "meditative motion" or "acceleration celebration." Whatever we call it, with this adolescent ritual turned spiritual exercise, we will have a unique opportunity to experience and connect with God.

Friday, May 09, 2008

evil world

It's hard to hear stories of evil and suffering in the world.

A cyclone wipes out a country and hundreds die in an instant. Four teens break in to rob a house and end up shooting a mother of 2, paralyzing her from the chest down. A father rapes his daughter for more than a decade producing multiple kids. A family loses everything because a drunk driver crashed into them and their health care won't cover all the bills. Teenage girls resort to prostitution to provide for their family and end up contracting AIDS.

Just watch the news for more than 2 minutes and you will see stories like this everyday. So much evil is in the world. So many people are suffering.

Sometimes I grieve. Then, I imagine the grieving heart of God. I wonder if He ever just wants to destroy this place with all of its sin. Our world is like a piece of fruit fallen to the ground with ants swarming all over it. Most of us would just count it a loss. We would throw the fruit away if we cared to pick it up at all. I wonder if God ever wants to just toss us in the trash or leave us fallen in the grass.

I am reminded that He did destroy the world one time. With a flood of water, He wiped out all of the earth and left only one faithful family. And this should be a good reminder for us. The evil and sin that causes such suffering in the world is not "out there." It is "in us." Even after God destroyed everyone but Noah, sin still survived. Inside even the most faithful, sin survives like a dormant virus.

When we gasp at the horrific evil in this world, let us not forget that we are gasping at our own dark potential apart from Christ.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

broken car

For reasons known only to the mysterious guild of car mechanics, this week my car decided not to no longer back up. I can drive it forward just fine. All my "forward" gears work perfectly. I just can't reverse. Sure, the car geniuses would tell you that it is probably that the reverse gear has broken down or that there is a larger transmission issue. But I do not know the world of "under the hood" inspections. I deal in the metaphysical and therefore choose to believe that my car is trying to communicate a deeper message to me.

What I believe is happening is that my 12 year old car is performing the equivalent of a "sit-in." This tactic of civil disobedience is best known from the civil rights movement of the 60's. Essentially, my car has decided that he will no longer go backward. And by this act of defiance my car is teaching me an important truth.

In order to move forward, one needs to be able to move backward in short and strategic bursts.

I don't know why my car is trying to teach me this lesson this week. But it is an important lesson for all of us. You try driving a car that only moves forward and see how you do. If you can only move forward, you can't park in most spots. Without the ability to reverse, you can't make any mistakes going forward. If you find the nose of your car sticking too far out into the perpendicular street at the intersection, tough luck. If you need to turn around using a three-point turn, too bad.

Most of our driving and our lives are done by moving forward. However, the ability to back up, take a second look and re-think decisions is essential. We often don't notice our need to back up until the day that we are not able to do it.

Reverse is an important gear both for our cars and for our lives. We don't need to spend a lot of time backing up. This particular gear wasn't meant for quantity. Backing up tends to be more about quality and timing. There are times in driving and in life when the only way to move forward is to first move backward.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

framing Horizon

Horizon Church of Towson is:

Like an intimate music venue; there's no cover-charge at the door.

Like a freshman intro class; there are no pre-requisites before joining.

Like Facebook; we tend to make new friendships through current ones.

Like the mogwai Gizmo from the movie Gremlins; we multiply.

Like a Whole Foods Market; we tend to be organic.

Like a concrete foundation; integrity is essential.

Like Enterprise Rent-A-Car; we will meet you where you are.

Like Kudzu; we grow together.

Like the kids who get on the plane first; many of us feel like "unaccompanied minors."

Like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; we are relevant to culture, often funny and sometimes irreverent.

Like a mule; we prefer to work in teams and often get accused of being an "ass."

Like a self-checkout machine at the grocery store; we what to empower you to do it yourself.

Like a cell phone; we are small, mobile and easy to talk to.

Like a car navigation system; we will help you head in the right direction.

Like a pre-teen first date; we meet up at the movie theater.

Like a tour guide going up Mt. Everest; we like small groups.

Like Olympic figure skating; most of us are singles but there are some pairs.

Like a poor goat herder; we love kids but we just don't have many.