Friday, August 29, 2008

McCafe is McBad

You may have seen ads at McDonald's for their new coffee drinks...mochas, cappucinos, lattes, and more. So this morning on my way to work, I thought I'd give it a try. I ordered a medium mocha, paid $2.69 and recieved a 12 oz. cup with what looked like a tasty blend of coffee and chocolate...great way to start a cool, rainy day. That will be my first and last cup. Not wanting to waste the money and wanting at least the caffiene, it was drinkable but I can't recommend it to anyone. The coffee is pretty bad to start with, so covering up a bad cup of coffee with other flavors is still just a bad cup of coffee. It wasn't blended at all so there was no mocha flavor unless you stirred constantly (which is hard to do while driving) or just took all the mocha in one shot in the last drink of the cup. Either way...not impressed. So...don't waste your money. Brew your own fresh at home or pay the same amount at a good coffee shop that at least starts with better coffee.


For Obama's nomination acceptance speech the Democratic National Convention moved to Invesco Field (Mile High Stadium) in Denver, Colorado. For me, it was facinating to watch, but not because of the history, or the candidate. In fact, all politics aside I was looking at the venue, the people, the images, the sounds, and the 'experience.'
Did you see how people were reacting emotionally? The tears, the smiles, the reactions? Did you see how people found themselves connected to one another through the shared 'experience' that was created for them in that stadium? Did you hear any of the commentators talk about how 'intimate' it felt to be in that stadium? Did you see how the technology, music, visuals, were all layered and used to appeal to all the senses? Did you see the yearning and the hunger in people? Did it evoke a response in you?
My overwhelming thought while watching the coverage was, "We have 86,000 people cheering, crying, and willing to do just about anything to support this person, yet we have fewer people in our churches and 3,000 souls a day leaving the Christian faith." Where is that kind of following for Christ? If the church booked a venue like Invesco field, would there be lines of people waiting to fill it to hear about Christ? Are we so much more enamored with a human political candidate than we are with Christ?
There's no question that in (and out) of our churches we have a lot of work to do to re-establish credibility, trust, transparency and authenticity. There's no question that a majority of churches have 'missed the mark' in drawing younger generations, and have a lot to learn about how to reach young or disenfranchised people. see this event I also have to ask, what kind of reflection is this of our society? Have we become so secularized that we reserve more emotion, more energy, more attention, more worship for political leaders, sports events, or celebrities than we do for Christ? When was the last time we witnessed someone in church make their acceptance speech of Christ and we cried and cheered? When was the last time we showed any kind of emotion in church? When was the last time we felt an intimate connection with strangers in a worship experience? When was the last time Christ's message so moved us that we cried, cheered, clapped, stood up, hugged someone near us, smiled, or felt moved to act? When was the last time we picked up and read Scripture for ourselves? When was that last time we took responsibility for our spiritual life by practicing the spiritual disciplines daily, weekly, monthly?
I get the historic nature of the event. But I'm afraid that many of those 86,000 who think they have found hope and a leader and vision, will be sorely disappointed when they find it isn't enough and does not really satisfy them either.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Storm Lives Up to Name

Tropical Storm Fay may not have been a hurricane, but it's long-term effects have been just as bad if not worse. Battered for 5 days (or more depending on where you live) by sustained 40 mph winds, gusts upward of 50 mph and flooding rain have left memorable marks on residents of Florida. Imagine being like a 'prisoner in your own home' for more than 3 days while the storm sits right above you and just does not stop. Family members in Florida who have weathered many storms remarked that this one is memorable because of its indecisive and relentless nature. In the way my brother described the storm, I commented that at least it was living up to it's female name. He laughed and said, "No comment." While I'm relieved that he and his family are safe from flooding, there are many communities and families that are not. So I hope that you'll find a way to respond to those who need our help. Prayers for those still in the wake of the storm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zealots or Good Hosts? (click here for article)

The Olympics is an opportunity to not only honor human physical
acheivements, but also the human spirit. Stories abound of athletes who have overcome great odds and obstacles in order to compete. Some acheive personal bests and some win gold medals.
Others, like those featured in this NPR story, won't receive medals but they certainly are getting attention!
It is not surprising that there are those who have connected ancient art forms with a modern sporting event. While accupuncture and tattoo are not recognized as Olympic might think they should be after seeing these folks!

While some may find these people bizarre, I can't help but be facinated by how they have created deep meaning for themselves in what they have done. Using their mental strength to help achieve their physical appearance is only part of story. They are also expressing their deep pride as hosts of an Olympic games, and their sense of hospitality. Many misinterpreted the Chinese opening ceremonies as an over-the-top self-centered history lesson. But it really reflects a different kind of hospitality than the West is used to. The Chinese do not simply want to welcome everyone from around the world, they feel it is their duty and privilege to entertain and to bring joy to everyone. I was surprised that after such good reporting from China after the earthquake, that NPR would miss the point so completely with this story about "Olympic Zealots." Step outside your Western worldview for just a moment and try to appreciate the lengths that so many Chinese people have gone to (and are willing to go to) in order to show their hospitality.

'Franchised Churches' (click here for article)

There's a lot to respond to in this article, but really...what's all the fuss?
The question missing from all the articles like this that pontificate about whether churches with multiple or video-based campuses is good or bad is, "Is the church reaching souls and transforming lives?" Do some journalism for once and not just op-ed...get the real story of what's going on and ask the important questions.
I'm a little tired of the techie-wired naysayers telling churches and church leaders to be wary of using technology...I'll throw out my Internet connection if you throw out yours! Apparently it is okay for the rest of the world to be in the here and now, but not the church.
Sorry for the sarcasm...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

My 4 1/2 year old came home the other day singing lyrics to a Hannah Montana song. She's never even seen the tweeny bopper on TV...only heard about her at pre-school. So who are the parents who are letting their little girls watch this stuff? And please don't tell me she's a positive role model for young girls...that idea was busted a long time ago.
So now I have another opportunity to talk to my own daughter about what some of those words mean, what life and self-confidence is really about, and what to think about before you repeat anything. And yes we've thrown in the age-old, 'just because everyone else does it, doesn't mean you do' adage.
I was hoping to stave off critical thinking about song lyrics for a few more years...shouldn't she at least be able to read before we do these kind of exercises? Well too late. I printed some lyrics and we read them. Then I asked questions about what she really thought about those statements. She actually had no real idea. I asked if she wanted my opinion...she did (I know that won't last long!). I offered my take on some of the self-centered, party all the time lyrics that actually set girls up to make poor decisions. This was eye-opening since we've really been working on making good decisions. Do I really care if she listens to the music...not really, but I do care about the messages she's getting from the songs, the images and all the hype. Like many moms, I'm really not so impressed with much of what Disney has a hand in.

Had to happen sooner or later!

Click below for the Republicrats video

Then go to the following link to find out more!