Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Have you followed the antics of the elected officials in Detroit lately? After successfully hosting a Super Bowl, they have managed to regress to schoolyard antics in just two weeks. And the public is outraged, as evidenced by their comments.

It seems that Detroit has a $300 million budget shortfall. So, the Detroit Zoological Society agreed to take the operations of the Detroit Zoo off of the city's budget. The state of Michigan offered a $4 million grant to help with the process.

Here is where it gets really weird. According to news reports, the mayor's office took months to get the plan to the City Council. The plan arrived to the Council late Friday and they debated the issue well into Saturday before voting 7-2 to not turn over control. The grant offer expired Sunday morning and the Mayor's office immediately announced that they would begin closing the zoo.

Public outrage ensued.

Then race entered the picture. Quoting from the Detroit News:
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson stoked the fire by saying the council itself should be placed in a zoo. Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins said white people don't own black people anymore. Patterson said he'd rather own a 1948 Buick than Collins.

You can't make this stuff up.

Let me get this straight. You (Detroit) can't afford the zoo. Group offers to run zoo, take over operating costs. You reject offer because it didn't meet your timetable. Then you invoke slavery?

The Detroit City Council needs a new motto. I propose "City Council - putting the fun back in dysfunctional."

This is so embarrassing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Enough of Fred Phelps and his crazy, homophobic congregation. Enough of this self-described minister adding to the grief of the family of slain soldiers. You can read about them here.

Mr. Phelps has a congregation that believes it is their job to run around to the funerals of soldiers who gave their life for the country and tell the grieving family that their son/daughter died because God is judging the U.S. because of the "don't ask- don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military.

How is this helpful? How does it help more people get into the kingdom of God? How does it portray the love of Christ to the world?

Mr. Phelps and his band of haters do more to damage the cause of Christ than I can imagine. But I have no idea how to stop them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


fric·tion n.
  1. The rubbing of one object or surface against another.
  2. Conflict, as between persons having dissimilar ideas or interests; clash.
  3. Physics. A force that resists the relative motion or tendency to such motion of two bodies in contact.
Friction is one of those morally neutral things that drive us crazy. Friction is good, as in iron sharpening iron. It's bad when it's ball bearings screeching to a halt. We like it when it helps our tires grip the road surface, we don't when it creates static electricity and shocks us when we open the door.

Friction is everywhere. It is why the jet stream is faster than surface winds. It is why the center of a river channel generally flows faster than the area near the edges. Friction is what slows our snow sleds on the hills, unless we pull a Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation and use some super lubricant to reduce friction.

Friction also exists in our lives in less abstract ways. Friction occurs when you have competing ideas and visions. The two sides may not agree on a particular approach to a subject, but one will carry the day. How that process is handled is extraordinarly important.

If there is no lubricant between the two sides, things can heat up quickly. Just forget to add oil to your engine once to get an idea of what can happen. Heat builds up to a failure point. In relationships the failure point can be words spoken in anger, rash decisions, or a decision to go negative and backbite and gossip about the other person.

Properly managed friction can produce a relationship where the two sides pull together and work for the common good and purpose. In a machine, liberal application of a lubricant such as oil usually does the trick. With people, oil is much less effective.

The lubricants of choice would be love, grace and humilty. Putting those together can make a number of things go much more smoothly. Remembering that the other person is a child of God is always helpful. If the question comes down to purely personal choice, e.g there is no clear right and wrong, then humility needs to be applied. And grace covers a number of bumps along the way.

I say this knowing that I have not always done this. But God continues to work on me to mold me into something useful to him. A pastor once called me "hard-headed and tender-hearted." I took it as a compliment, but realized that the hard-headed needs to be tempered with humility. And God is really good at humbling people.

I know.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Wow. It used to be that cartoons made you laugh most of the time. Aside from the Doonesbury types who seem profoundly cynical AND negative, as opposed to just one of the two, most cartoons and comics are designed to make the reader chuckle. And most cartoonists used the characters at the top to express cursing and frustration. Given that knowledge, it appears that the Danish press missed the memo that their Muslim readers don't have much of a sense of humor. At least when Mohammed is the target of the humor.

I'm sure you have seen the stories about the rioting, killing and street protests across Europe and the Middle East since the cartoons were reprinted. Several things strike me here. First, the cartoons were in poor taste. Not that taste has been at its zenith lately, but they were unnecessary. Second, this kind of "art" has been done to Christians and Jews for some time. A crucifix in a jar of urine passed for art in New York last decade. Jews are frequently depicted in a very negative manner in the US, European and Arab press. Third, what is it about insulting their prophet that makes Muslims want to riot? I still do not understand their religion.

There was no reason for these cartoons to be reprinted. But Muslims need to realize that in the this era, nothing is sacred. Especially a religion. Welcome to the Post-Modern world.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Death and Politics

It used to be that the only two things you could count on were death and taxes. But I think political enmity can be added to the mix. To wit, read this story about the sinking of an Egyptian Ferry. It seems that the Egyptian Government would rather let it's people drown than accept help from the Israeli or American governments. Both countries offered air assets to help with the search and rescue operations, and were rebuffed.

It's sad when hatred and political posturing cost innocent lives. Especially when it is so unnecessary.

Pray for these people. They need it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

As you wish

In the movie The Princess Bride, the character Westley responds to Buttercup, who is his employer with "As you wish" whenever she asks him to do something. That thought has struck me recently as an attitude that I have lost toward my Lord and Savior.

In the Lord's Prayer, we say "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" without really thinking about what that means. We are in effect saying, "As you wish" to God. In the Princess Bride, Westley does this out of deference to his employer because that is what servants do. Are we not servants of God? If so, we need to be far more deferential to the Lord.

If he asks us to move and take a new job - As you wish
If he asks us to change our ministry within the church - As you wish
If he says no to our requests for healing - As you wish

As you wish

As you wish

As you wish.

That is my theme this year. To say "As you wish" to whatever the Lord has in store for me. I know He loves me and does things for His Glory. Let me be an instrument of His Glory this year.



Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Creation Care

I've been pondering what my role as a believer is in caring for God's creation. I know we were given dominion over the earth, but what does that mean? Does that mean we can exploit the earth to the point that it harms other humans and species? I don't think so.

The Brian McLaren quote from my previous post about judging our actions through the lens of how they better the world sticks with me. All tree-hugging jokes aside, this is something that I am really chewing on.

I'm listening to a Cherokee christian talk about how native Americans view creation care. It's thought provoking to say the least.

What are your thoughts on this topic? I'd love to hear them.