Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Best Sellers Aren't Always Best

Dan Piraro's comic strip, Bizarro, usually lives up to its name...in spades.

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; especially when the humor also includes a big, heaping helping of Truth like this recent panel did:

Truth is...The time will come [and is now here, IMHO] when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3, NIV)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sacrificial Love

Mark 14:3-9 (The Message)
Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could — she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”

From My Journal: February 1, 2001
I ought to be able to relate to this woman. I know what it's like to spend what you can't afford in order to express love. I've done it with Beloved more than once.

Lord, have I done it with You? Have I truly sacrificed in order to say, "I love You, Lord"? Have I been lavishly extravagant in my devotion to You?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Truth is...He has been more than lavish showing His love to me. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (I John 3:1)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Can We Talk?

I've been reading a book by Richard Zoglin, Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America. Each chapter either profiles a specific comedian (e.g., Lenny Bruce or George Carlin) or subject (e.g., New York comedy clubs or improv).

In the chapter about female comics (and how few of them there were in the 70s), there's a nugget of truth hiding in a paragraph about Joan Rivers.

Rivers struggled for years, driving in from the suburbs in her broken-down Ford, lugging a Wollensack tape machine to record her act. She watched contemporaries like Bill Cosby and George Carlin, whom she worked alongside and got to know in the Village, break through on television, while she continued to plod along, undiscovered. She was past thirty, and agents and managers were giving up on her. "You're too old," said Irvin Arthur, the agent for whom she had once worked as a secretary. "Everybody's seen you. If you were going to make it, you would have done it by now." Some of the few words of encouragement came from Lenny Bruce himself, who saw her act at Upstairs at the Downstairs and left her a note: "You're right and they're wrong." Says Rivers: "That kept me going for a year and a half."

Truth is...You never know whether what seems to you like a small word or act of encouragement might feel like the weight of the world being taken off someone else's shoulders. So pass out those encouraging words with abandon. You have the power to keep someone going for a year and a half.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pornography on NPR

Well...if THAT title doesn't get this post a few extra clicks, I don't know human nature at all.

But it actually happened.

I was running some errands...well...driving around doing some errands on a recent Saturday, and had NPR playing on the radio. It was an interview with the outgoing (as in leaving his position, not as in gregarious and extroverted, though he kind of appeared to be both...but I digress) cartoon editor for The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff. And he used the word pornography, so there you have it...pornography on NPR.

But you're wondering, I hope, what the context was and why it was "important" enough for me to write about.

It was just one sentence, but it was all I could think about the rest of the afternoon:

"Jokes are the pornography of humor."

Truth is...Mr. Mankoff wasn't trying to make a profound point. In fact, the line was just kind of mumbled at the tail end of a longer thought, and the interviewer didn't respond to it at all. But for me? For me, it deepened my understanding, not only of what a sense of humor is, and its relationship to a go-for-the-guffaw joke, but also my understanding of pornography's relationship to sexual intimacy...how it cheapens and spoils the concept of romance, turning it into a commodity instead of a relationship.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Wright Brothers Go Wrong

I have not read the book by Lawrence Goldstone, Birdmen, nor do I ever intend to read it, but I am grateful to DelanceyPlace for the following introduction and excerpt.

After their historic 1903 breakthrough in flight, the Wright brothers were granted patents on their invention that were overly broad -- both by the standards of their time and the standards of today. The Wright brothers' vigorous attempts to enforce these patents (especially against their arch rival Glenn Curtiss) created enormous resentment and left a trail of rancorous litigation. More importantly, the brothers, especially the older brother and design genius, Wilbur, pursued this litigation to the neglect of pursuing improvements in their technology, and soon found themselves trailing other pioneers in the aviation industry:

"In pursuing damages over technology, the Wrights had rendered themselves anachronisms. Their lack of moderation was equally self-­defeating. Wilbur and Orville thought anyone who did not see things their way was either ignorant or duplicitous; anyone who overtly disagreed with them was either a liar or a cheat. The fact that the performance of their competitors improved while Wright airplanes remained substantially unchanged was, according to the brothers, only because the rest of the aviation community were a bunch of craven patent in­fringers. ...

"By the end of 1911, Wilbur's frustration had begun to gnaw at his health. He had by his own admission worked harder and for longer hours pursuing the case against Glenn Curtiss than he had developing the Wright Flyer. He drove himself to exhaustion traveling around the country, meeting with lawyers and giving depositions, and grew so thin as to appear cadaverous. Family members began to express concern about the crushing pace he insisted on maintaining.

"In January 1912, Wilbur wrote a singular letter to the Hungarian anthropologist Guillaume de Hevesy. 'During the past three months, most of my time has been taken up with lawsuits,' he began. ... Then Wilbur made an extraordinary assertion. 'When we think what we might have accomplished if we had been able to devote [the past five years] to experiments, we feel very sad.'

"There is little question that the patent wars were devastating American aviation. By January 1912, France boasted 800 aviators a day making flights to only 90 in the United States. As early as July 1911, Aeronautics ran an editorial whose opening line read, 'What is the matter with aviation in America?' The journal lamented that 'in three short years' after the 'epoch-making flights of the Wright brothers in France and at Fort Myer [that] electrified the world,' America had 'changed places from the head to the foot of the procession.' The magazine blamed a combination of a fear of innovation, an unwillingness to spend money, and a desire by the government to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what Europe came up with. Nowhere did the editorial mention that America's two greatest designers were either spending a good part of their time (Curtiss) or all of their time (Wil­bur Wright) trying to best each other in the courtroom."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...looking backward will seldom get a person ahead. If we spend all our time trying to recapture, protect, or fix the past, we will miss out on enjoying the present and preparing for the future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nixon's Henchman Speaks Truth

To many, Richard Nixon and Watergate and erased tapes and all that are ancient history; relegated to a section of the brain alongside Washington crossing the Delaware and One Direction being popular.

Earlier this week, Christians around the globe celebrated another piece of ancient history...the resurrection of Jesus.

Whoa! Wait...what do those two sentences have to do with each other?!!?

The connection is the following quote from Charles "Chuck" Colson, who served prison time because of his role in the administration of Richard Nixon and Watergate and erased tapes and all that.

Truth is...this single line of reasoning may not be enough to convince the skeptical that Jesus really did raise from the dead, but it's a fairly solid rung on that ladder.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Troubled by the Truth

The normal phrase is "the truth will set you free", but sometimes the truth will get you in hot water.

Mark 12:1-12 (The Message)

Then Jesus started telling them stories. “A man planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, erected a watchtower, turned it over to the farmhands, and went off on a trip. At the time for harvest, he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect his profits.

“They grabbed him, beat him up, and sent him off empty-handed. So he sent another servant. That one they tarred and feathered. He sent another and that one they killed. And on and on, many others. Some they beat up, some they killed.

“Finally there was only one left: a beloved son. In a last-ditch effort, he sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

“But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him over the fence.

“What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others. Read it for yourselves in Scripture:

That stone the masons threw out
    is now the cornerstone!
This is God’s work;
    we rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!”

They wanted to lynch him then and there but, intimidated by public opinion, held back. They knew the story was about them. They got away from there as fast as they could.

From my journal, January 22, 2001

"They" knew the story was about them, but instead of repenting in tears and agreeing, "Yes! We have rejected God's claim on our lives and lived our own way. Dear God, forgive us!", they get angry and seek out revenge  -  revenge for Jesus having told the truth.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...if I find myself getting angry at the truth about myself, I just may be standing on the wrong side of the issue.