And Another Thing…

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Due North

On Wednesday Christine and I will be heading for parts north to see her parents just outside Boston and to attend her best friend’s wedding in New Hampshire. Chris will be matron of honor and I will be the large guy snoring in the back (I kid). But I have to say that having performed 4 weddings, been a groomsman 15 times, and a groom once it will be nice to go to a wedding where I have to do nothing. Regardless, the blog will get some rest while I am away, so everyone be cool and stay out of trouble. See you next week. Peace.

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Old Man Gets His Due

Most of the time, I hate bragging. I hate it when I do it (or am tempted to). I hate it when others do it. But I am about to brag on my old man because he is having a once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend and I am too happy not to share it.

This weekend, at the annual conference of the National Wildlife Society, Dad will receive the Aldo Leopold Award.  Named after the conservation leader and founder of the wildlife management profession, this award is like the Pulitzer Prize for professional contribution to wildlife management.

Dad has devoted his entire life to the practice of and education about conservation, wildlife management, and ethical use of natural resources. Some of my earliest memories include attending 4H conferences and seminars where he would teach young people.  He taught my brother and I (as well as many of our friends) about hunting, fishing, and the joys to be found in the outdoors.  He instilled in us a respect for nature and a belief that one of the many ways that God reveals Himself to humanity is in the world He created.  We were raised with the belief that every generation is a tenant generation, with the obligation to responsibly care for and then pass on the abundant natural resources of the world to the next generation.

He spent 20 years in Washington D.C. as the national program leader for wildlife and fisheries in the United States Department of Agriculture.  He was the first person to ever hold this position. While in this position he consulted with every land-grant university in the U.S. to help them keep their programs on the cutting edge. He fought blood-draining battles with politicians and bureaucrats to protect regulations for ethical land use. He helped to initiate a program to recruit more minorities into the profession. By the time he retired, more than one of his colleagues referred to him as a legend in the field.

After retiring from the USDA, Dad took a position at Mississippi State University as a research professor in the department of wildlife and fisheries.  He influenced the next generation of foresters and wildlife biologists while continuing the fight for responsible wildlife management by advocating for fair-chase hunting and other ethical practices. He also helped to found and is still a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Conservationists. He retired from MSU in 2005 and is still in demand as a writer, speaker, and consultant. He has not lost his passion for educating people about his vocation and avocation.

I have always been proud to be one of his sons for a number of reasons. But this weekend I am proud that my old man is getting his due. I am proud of the number of people who have pushed for him to get this award. I am proud that he was too humble to “buck” for it. And I am proud of the example that he has provided to me. If I am lucky I will leave half the mark in my field that he has left in his.

Congratulations, Dad. You earned it.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Another one for my church of christ friends (especially ministers), or: the stupidest thing i’ve heard this week #2

I share your frustration. I know how much we all want to see the church shake free of the bonds of traditionalism and westernized, “consumer Christianity” as Craig Hicks rightly identifies it.  We want to see the church become a counter-culture force that preaches the good news to the poor, brings relief to the suffering, and hope to the defeated. I know that bringing this about often seems like nailing jello to a tree. However, the next time you think that you have had it…when you just don’t believe that it is worth another disagreement, when all of the concerns seem so trivial and you could chuck it and never darken the door of a church building again…remember this article.

This is the battle that their church has chosen to fight. This is what they care about.  This is where they are taking their stand for the faith. Suddenly, any complaints I have with my church leadership seem very, very trivial compared to church leaders who pull things like this.

Filed under: Faith and Religion

For all Christian readers (especially church of christ members)

You need to read this. The author, Dave Blankenship, is a good friend of mine (featured in my blogroll) and HGSR graduate with considerable experience as a campus minister and preacher. He has always edified me both one-on-one and in the pulpit.  What he has written is a call-to-action for all of us who care about the future of our fellowship. Drop by and leave a comment.

Filed under: Faith and Religion

The student thing

I’ve really got that back-in-school feeling. Despite ostensibly being a part-time student I am taking 9 hours which is technically full-time for graduate students (at least according to the tuition bill).  This semester I am taking Mental, Emotional, & Behavioral Disorders; Research for Social Work Practice; and Child Welfare. I expect to learn a lot in all of them, but the reading list is hernia-inducing and the workload is staggering.  Consequently (as both of my readers may have noticed) my blog output has slowed down.  I will maintain the commitment that I made to myself to post weekly, but that may be all that I do for a while.

I do enjoy blogging; it has allowed me to get to know people I would not otherwise have met and is cheaper than therapy. For these reasons, I intend to stay at it. I wonder about those who manage to put something out there everyday: how do you do it? Especially those with full-time jobs and families. My hat is off to all of you.  Be cool.

Filed under: School

3:10 to Yuma

Christine and I got to see 3:10 to Yuma this weekend with our friends Jeff and Ashley.  As a life-long western fan, I always get excited when a new one comes along that actually looks good.  Even the most casual of filmgoers knows how rare such an occurrence is.  How many good (or otherwise) westerns have there been in the past 20 years?  You can count them on both hands.

Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard (previously filmed in 1957) and set about 3 years after the end of the Civil War, Yuma tells the story of a posse attempting to escort captured outlaw gang leader Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) from Bisbee, AZ to Contention, AZ (an ominous name if ever there was one) where they intend to place Wade on the titular train to his trial and sentence. Wade is the type of charming rogue that Crowe plays with such ease: he is a natural leader, well-read, charismatic, funny, and has a way with women.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) a rancher who joins the posse for $200, is Wade’s polar opposite. Solemn, honest, and hardworking, Evans’ luck seems to have abandoned him. He has a wooden leg (a result of injuries from the war), his ranch is in foreclosure as a result of a drought, his oldest son doesn’t respect him, his youngest son has tuberculosis, and he is afraid of losing his wife. Believing that nobody respects him, Evans is counting on the $200 to turn his luck around.

Like any good western, there is plenty of action: from the outlaw gang’s robbery of a stagecoach, to Wade’s capture, to his gang’s attempts to rescue him, to the posse’s encounters with marauding Apaches and bounty hunters, to Wade’s attempts at escape, to the mindblowing final shootout. However, the heart of the story is the relationship of Wade and Evans. Evans looks down on Wade for being a thief and a killer; Wade doesn’t understand why Evans stays honest despite having so little to show for it. Yet, by the end of the film, both men begin to like the other despite themselves; this causes some interesting plot twists in the final act.

This is good stuff; director James Mangold gets that a good western is more than gunfights and great scenery. At its best, the western allows all sorts of stories to be told with plenty of subtext and character development. Add in some top-of-their game acting from Bale, Crowe, and the young actor Ben Foster as Wade’s fiercely loyal (and psychotic) right hand man and you get an altogether satisfying experience. Hands down, one of the best movies of the year.  Best of all, this one is actually making money and getting good reviews, which may lead to a long-awaited western revival.

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On a completely un-related note, this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and it’s safe for work. Check it out.

Filed under: Movies

Time Traveller Day

This could be one of the greatest days ever. Read this post and give feedback. Which option would you pick? Where would you do it? Personally, I want to be Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys and really freak people out.

Thanks to Jeff for posting about this.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Is it really worth it?

Thanks to Jeff over at Atheocracy for putting me on to this one.

This past weekend stand-up comic Kathy Griffin made some off-color jokes about Christianity while accepting an Emmy for her cable show.  In response, Catholic League president Bill Donahue has issued a press release demanding that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences denounce Griffin’s comments.

Were her remarks offensive? Certainly. She ended her speech with a nasty remark that you wouldn’t want anyone saying to your mom, spouse, children, or God and then held up the award and shouted, “This is my god now!” On the other hand, during her acceptance speech she said: “a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.” And you know what? At least on that point, she is right.

Before anyone’s head pops off, let me explain. Do we really buy it when celebrities thank God for their awards? How about when athletes thank God for the three pointer they shot or the touchdown they made? I don’t know these people and I can’t question their sincerity. Nor am I saying that God couldn’t intervene in these situations. But with all that is going on all over the world, I just don’t believe that God cares about entertainment awards or sports.

Which leads me to ask: is it really worth it for the Catholic League or the American Family Association (you know that they are going to get in on this) to go after Griffin? What are they hoping for, an apology? Suppose Donahue gets the Academy to denounce her. What will that amount to? She has already said it. The only thing that all of this indignance and huffing and puffing will accomplish is generating more publicity for Griffin.

Nobody asked, but my suggestion is to let it go and forgive. For that matter, maybe we believers should pray for Griffin.  We are supposed to be the ones who turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies, remember? To do otherwise gives Griffin a lot more credibility and power than she deserves.

Filed under: Faith and Religion

It defies description

          The latest development in the seemingly never-ending Catholic clergy abuse scandals has arrived. I have to ask: does it bother good Catholics that their contributions go to lawsuit settlements? Does it bother them that their church actually has sexual abuse lawsuit insurance? Does it bother them that for decades church officials have been transferring priests who violate children to other parishes rather than removing them from authority and reporting them?

          The most troubling part to me (you know, aside from what these sick freaks actually did while hiding behind the mantle of religious authority) is that even now, with all of this brought to light, the Vatican has never issued an apology.  Not once has a diocesan leader repented for enabling these acts. In fact, if you believe Bishop Tod D. Brown, it is the church that is being victimized. Brown said that he agreed to the settlement because “he couldn’t risk a trial in a state where a jury once awarded $30 million to two people who claimed they were sexually abused by clergy.” Oh ain’t life hard for the poor, pitiful pederasts?

          Amazingly, they think that the money is going to make it all better. Will money heal the scars of the violated children? Will money restore those who have lost their faith as a result of all of this?  You know the answer to that as well as I do, folks.

Filed under: Faith and Religion, Rants

My next favorite quote

Tonight at school I had another encounter with the “elephant vision lady” (before we go any further, let me state that I am actually very fond of her). We got to talking during the break between classes and the subject of children came up. I told her that Christine and I plan to start trying after I finish my degree in May 2009.  Below is a transcript of our conversation immediately following that statement:

 Elephant Vision Lady:Oh, that’s great. Right now your children are up in heaven just waiting to be born.

Me:What? Really?

Elephant Vision Lady:Oh yes. My son told me that before he and my daughter were born, he told her to go ahead and be born because he wanted to give her two extra years of life. What could be more generous?

Me: [stupid, mute expression]

Elephant Vision Lady:The souls of children are linked to their parents before they are even born.

Me: [stupid, mute expression]

The funny part is, we have a class on mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders together. In that class, her comments are usually cogent and insightful. Regardless, I think that I am going to start following her around with a tape recorder so that I can get more of these gems from her. Did I mention that I love being back in school?

Filed under: School

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