Listen. Just Listen.

One last thing to say in the arena of politics today.

For a while now I have been really bothered by the way political discussions are so heavily slanted in one direction or another. The same issue can be discussed by either “side” of an issue using almost exactly the same terms but applied equally to either side. The “left” accuses the right of being “stupid”, “ignorant”, having “blind party allegiances”, and of course, misrepresenting the facts. The “right” is guilty of exactly the same broad-brush labeling.

I’ve said before on this blog that I am – if anything – libertarian. I suppose I would fall under the more socially conservative brand of such a label, but basically I believe both “sides of the aisle” are just in it for themselves and all are inflating our government to some monstrous entity it was never intended to be. Rights and responsibility belong squarely in the hands and on the shoulders of the people. Period.

Perhaps because I have no allegiance to any party I can see this more clearly? I’m not sure why it’s so hard to see, but the plain truth is…

No one is listening.

No one. No one is bothering to hear what any other opinions might be. No one seems to care to actually come at the issues or problems or whatever it is that supposedly are at the heart of any discourse from the perspective of the other person or “party”. I hear things said about “the right” that I know are not true. (Because I believe some of the things that are being “attacked”, and the reasons given by “left-leaning” folks that I believe them are nowhere near the truth. I fully assume the same is true in reverse.

If we would just bother to actually listen to each other, we’d find we’re not that different.

The approach, and even general philosophy of how to manage/govern a large group of people may differ, but the heart of the matter (what happens to our families, neighbors, communities, and even our country) is the same. We are the same.

I’m not sure our selfish nature will ever allow us to truly listen to one another. But if we ever did, the results would be astounding. True, others-oriented cooperation is at the heart of real community, isn’t it?

“Treat other people the way you would want to be treated.”

A paraphrase of the so-called “Golden Rule”. Words spoken by Jesus. Perhaps we should really listen to them.

Theodore Roosevelt: This Will Destroy America

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.
Theodore Roosevelt

Got that from my dad via email today, and I’d say it’s pretty spot on. Unfortunately, it also seems to describe our current culture in America.

I copied that quote from a website with lots of quotes. Including, more from Teddy Roosevelt.

Humble Scientists

We received a complimentary copy of the latest edition of Creation magazine (the Answers in Genesis folks) and I have been perusing it the past couple days. I really enjoy the subject matter they cover, and I believe that my worldview is similar enough to theirs that I can mostly relate to what they are presenting, so it’s generally a good read.

What makes me sad is that as I read it, I sense the same (or greater?) arrogance that I would get from any staunch “Darwinist” in their writings. Their conclusions—really just most of the words they choose to use—drip with arrogance. Their angle seems mostly to tear down the “prevailing” scientific thought of the day, which seems to begin with the parameter that there is no God (or supernatural) and so all of life happened on its own.

As I said, the arrogance permeates all of science, no matter which fundamental worldview you happen to hold to. Whether you feel the evidence points to evolution and all of those conclusions, or a creator and his creation and all of those conclusions (or somewhere in between I suppose?) why the need for such definitive certainty? In most cases, we just can’t know everything. We know what we know now, and usually that’s only a part anyway.

So I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if there was some organization for humble scientists? Scientists who pledged no allegiance to a theory or a doctrine or, even worse, a financial underwriter or a political party? How great would that be to just have intellectually honest investigation of the facts, based on current theories, and then a neutral (although, can never be completely neutral) presentation of the current conclusions from the current studies? What could be wrong with that?

If I was a scientist, in the scientist community… that’s what I would do.

Tips Should Be Tips!

Today as we ate at a sit-down restaurant for the second day in a row (may be a record!) I found myself in the familiar place of attempting to figure out what a “fair” tip would be for our waitress. Generally I do a few dollars, which is probably about the percentage it is “supposed” to be.

But this time I had to pause for a few reasons. First, we have spent a bunch of money this weekend on home school books and other supplies, so, was considering the overall funding. Then, the waitress wasn’t really all that helpful. Aren’t you supposed to tip for excellent service?

That’s when I realized what a crazy system the whole “tipping” thing has become!!

Listen, people… TIPS are BONUS money given for doing a GOOD job!!! They are not a requirement. They can’t be. Then they are not tips!

But, I know. Part of the brokenness of the system is that the employing restaurant does not pay their servers a fair wage. They pay less because they realize that “tips” have become a “required” expense for those doing the dining. So they pay less? How is that fair? Doesn’t make any sense… they should get paid to do the work they are doing!

Some places even have a forced gratuity (for large parties, etc). Come on!!

Hmmph! I am pretty close to deciding to never tip a waiter/waitress/server again. If I’m forced to pay a predetermined amount… how is that a “tip”? How do I get to choose to show someone I appreciated their service with a little bonus? I don’t!

So, that’s my rant for the day. TIPS should be TIPS!


Perhaps You Could Help?

Was talking with some friends of ours yesterday about the very recent death of their son-in-law. He was only 33 years old, and has a wife and two boys (12 and 13) who are now without their dad, who was also the one who brought in nearly all of the household income. I also found out they did not have life insurance, so their family is trying to help, but a fund has also been set up for them, and I thought I would pass that along here, in case you might be able to help them out.

To help, send donations here:

Michael and Tyler Stringer
Scholarship Fund
Five Star Bank
2425 Rochester Road
Canandaigua, NY 14424

More information available from Channel 10’s website here.

Saturn And Mars

The Planets

I watched an episode of PBS’ Nova recently titled, “Voyage to the Mystery Moon”. It was the story of NASA’s Cassini mission to explore Saturn and land on its enormous moon, Titan. Very cool show about a pretty fascinating project. I am definitely very interested in space and space exploration.

Well, that show led me to do a bit more research on the internets, and while there, I discovered that right now (at least where we live) you can look up in the western sky, just after sunset, and see Saturn and Mars really really close together. It’s pretty cool. You should try it.

This article gives a bit more detail, but it’s basically July 9-11 that the planets will appear to be close together in the sky.

So if it’s a nice night where you are (and you’re near where we are) get out and enjoy the view!

The Intricacy Of Us

I recently watched a Discovery Channel show titled 2057: Future Car or something like that. It’s more than just about the cars of the future. Really it’s about life 50 years from now. Projected by scientists and theorists who feel they are on the current cutting edge of technology and such sciences.

A good portion of the show was both fascinating and scary. It relates to the post below actually. The vision the makers of this show have of the future is a very, very “connected” future. Every aspect of life is interconnected to the others via a centralized network. Everything is known about everyone. The idea is that this makes life much safer, better, but… really? I think not. Maybe that helped me want to “disconnect” (see the previous entry).

Cars that automatically correct errors of human drivers, clothes that report your vitals to doctors every three minutes or so, cameras and GPS systems tracking everyone everywhere. Yikes.

Scariness aside, one segment that caught my attention was the part about robots. The documentary makers made no excuses in saying that robots are not ready for everyday use just yet. They are really hard to make work. There has been great progress, but it has been very slow-going, and very difficult. The interesting part to me was when they were trying to just get a humanoid robot to walk, the creators said, “It’s incredible how sophisticated the human body is, even just the balance it takes to take a step.”

How incredible we are! All these brilliant minds have spent years trying to make a machine that can do what a two year old can do! Amazing. It was fun to watch. I don’t doubt that we will progress and make something that can mimic human life more and more… but God has already done that! Holy cow. He’s just amazing, and I am blown away right now at his design, creativity, and his handiwork in general.

To think that there is no Designer, seems to me you are either just not seeing what I am seeing, or denying it, or maybe just stubborn. And I’m just talking about the intricacies of the human body and how it all works together. I don’t know the complete process of how we came into being, but I have no doubt just from what I have observed that we have quite intricately & skillfully been designed.

I’m not trying to start any arguments here, but as always comments/thoughts are welcome. It was just another moment today when I thought, “How can anyone think this is a sequence of events begun by random chance?” I think some might credit a universal “Life Force” rather than a being (God), but it seems the prevailing scientific thought precludes the possibility of a Designer… and that just seems so crazy to me.

I love that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are just amazing.

Don’t I Know You From Somewhere?

I was noticing something quite strange last night…

At the boys baseball games last night, we met some friends of our friends last night, and that got me to thinking. They are friends with several of our good friends (we regularly hear their names in conversation), and so we were talking with them about how we all knew each other. Some kinda fun/random circumstances brought everyone together. Very cool. I’m certain that God was wisely directing all of that. (Or at least, none of it surprised him) 🙂

When we started thinking about it, I noticed that most (maybe all?) of the people we spend time with (not just “know”) are not people we met through any “institutional church” structure. That actually really shocked me.

One of the things that I do occasionally wonder about with us not attending weekend services anywhere is just how that keeps us “off the radar”. Even though I find public gatherings quite lacking for any real connecting with people… it is at least a place to see them, and be seen. And I have always also had this (apparently false) notion that most of the people we hang out with we met through “going to church” together.

I guess I was wrong.

Does that mean that we just hang out with the bottom feeding scum who “claim” to follow Jesus but won’t give up a couple measly hours on a Sunday morning to be with other believers? Perhaps. 🙂 But, I don’t think so. A lot of the people we spend time with – speaking of believers – are part of weekend services and more in that setting. Now, definitely several of our friends are in the same place we are with all of that, but I would definitely say not the majority.

Could it possibly mean that such structures do not build the best, most lasting relationships? Could it just be that we did a poor job of doing that? Maybe both? Maybe something else? I really don’t have the answer.

I know that our friends who just moved to Maryland definitely have some great, close, deep friendships with people whom they met via their “church”. And certainly that can happen. I found it completely fascinating that it is not true for us. Most of the Christians we spend time with we met through various other settings and endeavors. So crazy!

There’s really no point to this, other than to share that interesting observation, and to just throw that question out there to you. Could this show that good friendships with other believers not only can happen outside of the institutional church structure, but perhaps even be better? (Better doesn’t really fit here as relationships are not really quantifiable, as that qualifier would suggest. I just mean, deeper, more lasting, going beyond conversations simply when you’re in the same place.)

If you have any thoughts, please do post your comments.


For some reason I am often reminded that God made me unique. I’m a bit differenter than your average Joe. I mean, first off, my name’s not even Joe. So, I’m different already.

But, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before, a friend of mine used to call me the “Curve Wrecker” because I was never what I was “supposed” to be.

And, another proof that I am different is that I’m totally OK with that. 🙂

Tonight as I was driving I noticed three boys playing together, hanging out, and I noticed that they all had the same hair. The longish, curly, sort of unkempt hair that all of their other friends have too. It’s an epidemic!

But that made me think, why are we so afraid to be unique? What is this compulsion to be like everyone else? I really have never understood it. I just am who I am. Maybe that’s different from you, or maybe it’s different from all of you… but it’s just who I am. Why would I try to change that just so I wouldn’t be different?

Talking with Jen about this later we remembered that young kids can be brutal when someone is different. Usually a difference from the group is made fun of right away – and often. Uniqueness is not tolerated. And yeah, that does make sense why you wouldn’t want to be different. Who likes to be made fun of?

But I guess that’s where love comes in. Where you’re loved for who you are. Loved by parents, by God, by siblings, grandparents, even friends. It starts with our adoptive Father, who loves us completely, and shows us what love is… but it’s modeled by other people who genuinely love us. Maybe I had that more (from my parents and family) when I was growing up? I definitely know it now, and God continues to show me more and more just how much he really loves me … and you 🙂

So if you’re feeling weird tonight, or too different from everyone else… consider that a good thing. There’s no one else who is like you. You are one of a kind, and you’re that way because God made you that way. I’m pretty sure I can say that. But I am sure that I can say he loves you completely that way. And that’s the most important thing… and what makes it OK to be unique.

So enjoy your uniqueness just like I have learned to, you weirdo! 🙂

[Things That Are Weird] Phone Walkers

I tend to walk around and do stuff while I’m on the phone. Sometimes it’s even just aimless walking, but usually I am just multi-tasking. Do you? I was meeting with a new client yesterday, and he did the same thing. He just took off and started pacing his house as soon as he answered the phone. He was a pretty good phone walker!

The cutest though is Kirsten and Julia. Whenever they chat with their grandparents, they are usually hold the phone to their ear and walking around our entire first floor. Julia usually just starts walking in a very tight little circle! So cute!!

But… since this is a Things That Are Weird…

Why DO we feel the need to start walkin’ when we’re chattin’ on the phone?