Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chicago the Magnificent City

I’m from North Dakota. I’m glad I am. Glad I grew up there. But I’m glad I live here now.

Quoting an article that is appearing in tomorrow’s Sun Times. In it the Mayor of San Francisco is describing why San Francisco must emulate what Chicago has done. Why what Mayor Daley has accomplished is so exceptional it is turning the heads of Mayors all around the country. You can read it all here, but here a few key quotes of why people come and enjoy Chicago so much:

They're drawn not to the classic symbols of old Chicago, such as Wrigley Field or the Art Institute, but to such vivid new landmarks as Millennium Park, a 24.5-acre gathering place that attracts residents and tourists. They're captivated by the manicured streets and sidewalks that transformed once-gritty stretches of this city into urbane green paths.

"When you walk the streets of Chicago, it enlivens the spirit," Newsom said. "The intangibles are evoked. There's a spirit of pride and community."

He is describing such sights as the ornate stone railings along the Chicago River, part of the new mile-long Riverwalk Gateway that brings Chicagoans closer to the south bank of the waterway. Or Millennium Park attractions like "Cloud Gate," an enormous, bean-shaped sculpture of polished stainless steel that already is a staple of postcards.

This vitality also is leaving marks on the city's fabled skyline. Twenty-one towers taller than 50 stories are in the works, most of them for downtown's growing residential population; within two blocks of Millennium Park, five newcomers will exceed 55 stories.
"I don't think there's any similarity between the two cities as it relates to how you can govern," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. "San Francisco's about process, totally. In Chicago, the process begins and ends with results."

Considering the self-image of a city celebrated by poet Carl Sandburg as "proud to be alive and coarse and strong," not everyone was impressed. There also was snickering when Daley confessed to Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin that "I enjoy Martha Stewart, all her books and, uh, everything else."

But Daley didn't flinch. Now, Chicago has 73 linear miles of medians that stretch like tentacles from the city's high-profile core of the Loop and North Michigan Avenue, leading to such incongruous sights as beds of black-eyed Susans across from auto body shops and the Erotic Warehouse on West Randolph Street.

What Chicago demonstrates is the ripple effect of physical change. When promising initiatives take root -- literally, in some cases -- it raises expectations of what streets, parks and buildings should offer in terms of appearance and environmental sensitivity.

I have lived all over the world, Far East, South America and Europe. I think these places are very beautiful. But in my opinion there is no city in the WORLD that I know of any more beautiful than Chicago is today. I’m so happy to be here.


Julie at LONE PRAIRIE wrote an interesting ironic article about hymnology. I think.

I was going to just comment but thought, what I have to say about all this is a bit more than a comment. Besides, this counts as a “Ping”.

I grew up in a hymn based church. Full on Lutheran. The big controversies were about which hymnal was better, red or green. I liked the old black one. It was arguing about the color of the vestments in 1917 as the Bolsheviks were at the door. Foolishness.

I got saved at 33 years old and began attending a Pentecostal Church in Fargo. I loved the old choruses. They were ditties I could sing in my quiet time in my head or under my breath. I still enjoy them. “From the rising of the sun…..”

But some things go around and come around. I attended a wonderful Sunday school class where the instructor just hauled out an old hymnbook and read the texts of the hymns and we would talk about what they meant. Some of those discussions were powerful. You can learn a great deal about theology by reading the old hymns. Now if we sing one of those hymns I get much from them. They mean something to me now.

I pity the one who sings them without apprehending the depth of meaning each word carries.

Of course there are bad hymns. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good. I don’t revere something that is old simply of it’s antiquity. I love opera. Some old opera is banal.

Some old hymns are banal.

But the ones that are not are rich.

So now, what of today’s music in the Church? Some banal, some rich. Nothing changes.

Julie talks of the Jesus as my Boyfriend music. There is some of that. But there is a level of the genre that is Jesus as my lover that is more genuine. Same concept different depth. If Jesus Lover of my Soul is right then the Jesus as my Lover stuff is right on. Heather Clark is a rich source of this material.

Then there is new music that rips the guts out of anyone who Loves Jesus from it’s passion. I was listening to a Hillsong CD a few days ago. There is a song, More than Life, The refrain was, I love you Lord, more than LIFE. The song before that is called Take all of me. Now, that is the stuff of modern Hymnody that I’m talking about. I could want “I love you more than life” played at my funeral. That’s how rich that kind of music really is.

Music played at a communion service can be so focused that we never lose sight of twhat is happening. The old Hymnals in the past did that, today we treat the music selection so much lighter in the modern Church during Communion. Hillsong addresses this focus in the Songs for Communion CD.

There is so much really GOOD music in the mix today. And there is so much really BAD music. We have a Christian music radio station in our market. K-Love. It’s ubiquitous. I almost never listen to it. It’s dumbed down spiritually. There is another national Christian music station out of California, Air One. Hard loud rock passion. My kind of stuff. Then there is the Flagship Christian Station out of Chicago. 80% is unlistenable except for Saturday PM when they have pure praise and worship on. The rest is almost beyond the pale for me. I have heard teaching on this station that makes my spiritual skin crawl. Doubt and unbelief.

I want to hear music in my head. I hear I love you lord more than life right now. I hear Heather Clark, Take me away, I hear Misty Edwards, You were always on his mind.

I think that as the revival I believe for develops, we will begin hearing better deeper richer music. Better than bad hymns, much better than some (not all) of the Chris Tomlin tunes everybody plays in Churches today. We need better heart touching stuff. We can go deeper, we can come up higher.

And, if I have my guess right, some will be hymns. Come thou fount of every blessing touches me whenever it is done. Read the story of how Robinson drifted from the faith after writing such a wonderful hymn. Now I raise my Ebenezer.

So, let’s find the deeper places and go there. Admit to ourselves that bad church music has existed since the beginning of time. Let’s do good music. People respond to GOOD music, be it hymns or Choruses or some strong lead guitar, a hammer down drum beat, a great bass player and a Hammond B-3. Now that's hymnody.

And to Julie, a well written essay. You are in good form.

James Earl Carter is (Deleted really offensive word here)

I have tried to give Jimmy Carter a pass from time to time. But he is an idiot. He embarrasses himself and his country by talking out of school.

He is a classless nutcase that should be sequestered from the world.

Israel agrees too.

I wrote this in anger. An anger I have every time I see that man or hear him talk. He is the source of much of the problems we have right now in Iran. (so was Reagan with Iran Contra to be fair).

I just wish he would shut the heck up. He's embarrasing and the worst president ever in all of history, that takes a lot.

That by the way isn't just my opinon. Read these two:

Worst President in History

Jimmy Carter, Traitor and Coward

If he wasn't so old he should be imprisoned for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Treason.

Dig out the Parka, you are gonna need it

Now, a Russian guy of Science credentials has come out and said, nope, colder not warmer.

That the whole global warming thing is about to end.

That we are about to see things get really nippy.

Just as I was getting used to global warming, I was enjoying the nice winters.



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lois Lane Would Make a Lousy Wife, Superman

In an article from Forbes online a man in a debate format has advised men everywhere not to marry a career woman.

I don’t know for sure if he is right on or not. I will say that there is some truth in what he writes.

If you marry the gal at the office who is such a go-getter you may live to rue the day because according to the article:

While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.

Rush talked about it and said;

These are the reasons you should not marry a career woman: One, you're less likely to get married to her. She's not interested in it. Number two, if you do marry, you are more likely to get divorced if you marry a career woman. Number three, she is more likely to cheat on you if you marry a career woman. Number four, you are much less likely to have kids. That would be in my plus column. Number five, if you do have kids, your wife is more likely to be unhappy. Number six, your house will be dirtier. This is in Forbes magazine! This is the subject of a study done in 2005 by two University of Michigan scientists, concluding that if your wife has a job earning more than $15 an hour which is roughly 30 grand a year, she'll do two hours less housework a week. Number seven. If you marry a career woman, you'll be unhappy if she makes more than you do. And number eight, she'll be unhappy if she makes more than you do. And number nine, you're more likely to get sick if you marry a career woman.

I think I might agree if my wife lets me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jesus – a man without credentials or references

I’m not upset. I’m just a little puzzled. It’s a symptom of a wacky evangelical environment. I have again been uberquizzed about my bonifides in ministry by an organization that may want to use something I have written. There are a lot of nuts out there so I get it. But it raises a question.

While I lived in Germany I got to know Peter Pretorius. He’s famous for working with James Robinson in feeding the poor in Mozambique. He was really frustrated with the western church at that time. He was itinerating around Europe for his mission. It was going OK. But, in trying to approach the Church in America they wanted to know, what were his credentials, what degrees did he have, who was he licensed and ordained by, who would vouch for him? What references did he bring?

While sharing a McDonald’s hamburger in Frankfurt he asked me this question, “Gene, what is with all the DR’s in America. Every preacher thinks they have to have a PhD. Earned or implied”. (I guess you can buy one on the internet. Never looked.) Then he made his point, “Any Church that requires that many Doctors is Sick”.

I have little against higher education. One of my best friends has a Doctorate or two. (sounds like something from segregation days, Some of my best friends are………..)

The issue is, what is with this super credentialed, super referenced, super educated church without fire in America?

I think of some great men of God, Smith Wigglesworth could hardly read yet if I had 1/10th his anointing I could raise the dead (as he did).

And Jesus. Wow, that would be something. Never went to bible school, college, no degree, no credentials. And now that I think of it the religious establishment rejected him.

I guess things never change.

Maybe the fact that we think we need so many Doctors in the modern church in America is because we really are SICK.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trying it One More Time

Years ago when I was in business for myself in ND I asked Peggy to come in and help me. I thought she was smart (She is) and that she would be better at the job than anyone I could hire.

The problems developed when I told her I was in charge. She’s a first born too. We both like being in charge. We both are strong personalities. That lasted 6 weeks.

It’s hard to go home and sleep with the boss. Either way that goes.

We decided then that in the interest of marital bliss we would not work together any more.

Well, ever the optimist, I have asked her once more to make the leap. We visited several nurseries in Tennessee where the wife of the nurseryman is also the office person. It works very well.

She saw that model.

She has quit the school system. She is going to be the administrative half of the nursery biz.

I have higher hopes. Neither of us apart is as good as both of us together are. This isn’t for everyone. I know that. But I think it’s time. Besides, the ability to do what I do is a long-term security blanket for anyone. You can do this till you are a hundred. If Peggy can learn it, I’ve taught her to fish rather than storing up a bunch of fish that might rot in an IRA or 401K.

Oh, we still store, but isn’t it good to know how to make money anyway.

It’s nice having her here. Egos are wonderful, when they are under control. Particularly mine.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Attack from the Sky by the Yellow Dogs of Summer

Today has been a most beautiful day. Clear Sky, no wind, 78 degrees, no humidity. Just the kind of day we all wish were every day.

We even sat outside and had lunch. It was as beautiful as it ever gets.

Tomorrow is the 22nd. This is a day feared by many. Drudge is all over it. Lots of prophecy buffs are predicting the end of the world tomorrow. Iran is about to nuke the world. Even Nostrodomus predicted this. So, enjoy.

I enjoyed today. If the end of the world comes tomorrow I had today.

But I want to let you know that a day early we were attacked right here in sunny St. Charles IL from the sky, a day early, lethal flying enemy. Yellow jackets. Whatever we were eating outside they enjoyed too. Who knew that ripe red tomatoes and fried summer squash was on the agenda. They did.

But, I threatened them with a can of wasp killing stuff. They disappeared for a bit, and came back with brethren.

Wasps tremble at the sound of my name (or maybe not).