Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. I’m not sure what it is about the James Bond movies that pastors would find appealing. Maybe it’s the wanton violence. The sexy chicks? Vengeance? Probably just special effects good enough to not be bothered by all the other stuff.

2. As Christians we are called to love our enemies without qualification. Not easy. But when it comes to politics. We don’t even seem to be trying.

3. I don’t remember what it was like for rain to not be falling.

4. My wife doesn’t agree with me when I say she is universally thought of as beautiful. It’s not just me.

5. Bob Dylan’s “Time Out Of Mind” is a perfect rainy day soundtrack. Actually just a perfect soundtrack.

6. Maybe Christians are not taken seriously on many social issues because when we are threatened we cling to a weapon and not the cross alone.

7. I always hope my boss is at work. This is very different than before.

8. I’ve been reading the Gospels lately. Thinking about them a lot. You cannot escape the fact that Jesus went easy on prostitutes compared to his treatment of religious leaders who continually added rules to control their followers.

9. It’s been over a week since I’ve had pizza. This is quite a feat for me.

10. Evangelicals are hard on prosperity preachers but our pastors are very prosperous. None take the steps Rich Mullins took. They are monied. Maybe that’s okay. I don’t know anymore. 

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. As I organize these thoughts I’m listening to a 1964 version of The Times They Are a-Changin’ and it sounds more Christian than what you would expect. 

2. The goal is to never forget the pure crystal clear misery I experienced in my previous job. And may I deal with others who may be experiencing a similar misery without forgetting with grace and mercy.

3. A depression settled over me earlier this week and I couldn’t figure out what it was. And then I remembered baseball season was over.

4. I have been in church all my life and have never heard a sermon on non-violence towards my enemy.

5. Our local school system will be rezoning soon. They are pretending to listen to parents. But they can and will do whatever they want. And forcibly take our money through taxes making it all but impossible but for a few to choose something different.

6. Jesus was killed for the sake of God and Country.

7. Books and records while the children sleep.

8. Is it crazy for me to be uncomfortable with pastors who make significantly more than me, asking/pleading with me to give? 

9. The cold is coming. The clear nights. And  an alive-ness to the night so still you can hear the heartbeat of other lives through bare branches.

10. This past week I talked very briefly with a parent whose child was sexually abused while a part of SGM. I could hear a hopelessness for any kind of justice this side of eternity. And I ask you to remember the absolute silence of thecelebrity pastors and CJ Mahaney before you share an article by them on social media.

11. My wife’s smile has healing powers.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. This morning after my run I looked up. While everyone slept, the sky was on fire. I stopped and stared and the few passing cars stared at me. The clouds were an upside down lava-field. The mountains in the distance could only hope they were spared. 

2. I could look at my coming birthday as growing a year older or an opportunity to get more records.

3. I think kids should study Dylan in school. Not studying him is myopic and a confusion of how culture is shaped. 

4. My fear is the guy on that album is not a worship leader. Because it’s not worship. He’s not a leader. It’s entertainment and that’s a concert with highly emotive and forgettable music.

5. Looking forward to not raking my leaves because the wind will just blow them into my neighbors’ yards anyway.

6. I don’t miss going to the ballpark on Friday nights for practice. People said I would. But they don’t understand my love for my home.

7. Baseball season is almost over. Which is stupid.

8. I’m not saying the fact that vinyl records are the same shape as a pizza is irrelevant.

9. Your pet is not your child.

10. Starting in a few days I’ll be publishing posts to this blog on vinyl albums I’ve bought this year. Less review that just rumination on my enjoyment of these albums. So get ready.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. It was not easy watching the Cardinals be eliminated from the post season. But what is harder is knowing baseball season is nearly over.

2. It is nearly impossible for me to enjoy any cop shows anymore. There are a number of reasons but two are significant. The arc of the story throughout the run always rises and falls on the cop becoming  either a victim and/or the accused. Second, every bad guy is always a calm, cool sociopath. I blame Foyle’s War for my high standards.

3. Thursday night I saw Jason Isbell under Autumn stars with a train running behind the stage. It was a perfect scene in which to see the reincarnation of Townes.

4. Speaking of baseball, I got to play in a parents against kids game last night. I was surprised at the instincts I had after not playing first base in 20 years. I knew the footwork and instinctively where to go. You never forget. Also, I’m sore.

5. Kindness towards others is an unsung melody of Christian vocational ethics.

6. My son Knox is not a natural athlete. But he wanted to try baseball this Fall. I’m so thankful he ended up with the coach he did. His coach has never showed one moment of impatience with Knox and has never been anything but encouraging. What a gift.

7. I have never not wanted pizza.

8. Louis Armstrong on Vinyl.

9. I went from dreading work every day to looking forward to work every single day. It’s hard to live here. I had gotten so used to being in a dark place. The light is almost blinding.

10. Last Saturday my wife and I had lunch with Dee from The Wartburg Watch. This will be one of those meals I’ll never forget. She is truly a hero in the church today. And she’s unsung by the big name preachers and leaders. She makes nothing and works at it like a full-time job. She cares about the hurting the way pastors are supposed to. Which is why we need The Wartburg Watch. No one else seems to care.
(Photo: courtesy of the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater)

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. My wife found the best birthday present I think I’ve ever gotten. An early sixties Sears Silvertone Stero Phonograph Console. It’s beautiful and sounds incredible. And it was cheaper than the cheap record player I found on Amazon.

2. I’ve been reading a lot of Billy Collins at work. Best job ever.

3. I wish I liked the ballpark more than I do. But it’s so messed up. Some kindness is found there but there’s a seriousness about it I can’t get me head around.

4. Wendell Berry is best read slow.

5. When I was a youth pastor I told some of my students, “I don’t give a damn about bad language. Your faith is shown when you are kind to your siblings and the unpopular lonely kid.” Having that kid now, makes me glad I took the risk of saying that. Because middle school girls are mean.

6. I just listened to Clapton for the first time in years. His Robert Johnson album is vinyl worthy.

7. I love the leaves on the ground, even though I know I’ll labor to pick them up. The grandeur is worth the energy required.

8. The only Presidential candidate worth listening to on gun control is the one willing to go without the protection of them. If the powerful think they should have them but the ordinary citizen shouldn’t, we have crossed over into an elitism that says protection by guns is for only the important and powerful. I don’t like guns. I don’t own one. Don’t plan on it. But this kind of thinking is very illiberal and will only increase the kind of violence we all hate.

9. Last night I looked over at my wife in her St Louis Cardinals shirt and was filled with gratitude for her smarts.

10. One of the cool things about my job is that I get to talk to people who do what I did for 4 years. I was looking for kindness in a dark place that whole time. Now I get to…have to be kind to the ones I talk with all day long, knowing how hard the work is.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. Rarely is any one person, institution, movement or group moving toward to doing less when they have the time and resources to do more and more. Instead, all move towards more because we think we can do it and therefore it must be done.

2. Our culture has uncritically accepted the reasonableness of loads of daily homework after our kids have been at school for 8 hours.

3. It’s October 1st and perfect Fall weather just like God intended.

4. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

5. My 6 year old asked what a soul was the other day. I thought I was avoiding these questions by sending my kids to public school.

6. Don’t assume the worst of those you disagree with and are arguing with. Ask questions. Ask yourself the same questions. Grace insists on it.

7. It’s my birthday month, so if you need to see my wish list, let me know.

8. Our culture’s idea of safety at the expense of endangering others is a luxury.

9. I’m tired of not eating pizza.

10. Joy is often familiar. Even when the experience is new. It may feel like an echo of a long forgotten sliver of memory. Once escaped. Now slight in the remembering. Only a taste. A sound. So small. But within, a world that can usher in that longed-for ache you know you were created for.

Random Thoughts for the Beginning of the Week


1. I’ve been listening to podcasts that interview writers and poets. Two different writers this past week said something to the effect of, “Write what you want. Don’t follow the market. You will never have your own voice, if you do. You cannot be yourself if you do.” And then they both offhandedly said this is true for life itself. And then like thunder it dawned on me how I do this with my family. I want to be seen as normal and follow the market of the middle class american family and what it values. But there is a voice ringing out like bells at dawn.

2. I’m writing some of these while up very late with a very sick little boy on Saturday night/Sunday morning and I’m past the point where I like anything anymore.

3. Over the past six months during my run I’ve seen a woman thin considerably.

4. I just watched a documentary about Levon Helm and there’s this scene on the day he wins a Grammy and he sees his just-born granddaughter for the first time in a picture and the look on his face is something I’ll never forget.

5. I cannot help but think the American idolatry of busyness is why my kids have so much dad-gum homework after being at school for 8 hours.

6. David Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 is heartbreaking in the most wonderful way possible.

7. I’m not very good at my job yet. But I find myself looking forward to it and wanting to get better at it. This is really weird.

8. I’m blessed to have a wife I am glad to have during hard times. But I did not ask the question before we married. I did not ask, “Is this who I want to weather the storms with?” I asked “Is this who want to have good times with?” Not a bad question. But my advice is to ask the first question first. The second question is kinda a full gone conclusion.

9. Two hours ago I was not only writing cogently but with rhythm. Now? It’s 2 AM and I don’t understand the keyboard anymore.

10. I believe one day the Christians of the future will look back on our day and wonder at our enjoyment of football while knowing it was destroying the lives of players and their families.


Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. Yesterday I drove through a part of town where all the houses and streets look ideal. The sidewalks were covered in former frat boys and sculpted moms pushing expensive strollers. I felt judged. And it dawned on me that others may feel the same driving on my street.

2. It is hard for me to see someone as a victim if they have a PR firm telling me they are a victim.

3. After more than five long years, we finally have another book by Mary Karr. There are not many memoirs who avoid writing about people they don’t like. She does it because she sees herself as her biggest problem. If you know her story, you’ll understand how amazing that is.

4. Just over a month left of baseball and there aren’t enough documentaries to get us through winter.

5.  I’m not a pacifist. But I still think American Christians are too comfortable with violence. Too enthralled with it as entertainment. Too easy with it as sport.

6. Something doesn’t smell right about the Muslim student getting arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school. It’s too perfect.

7. I listened to an interview with Mary Karr about her new book while running this morning. You would’ve thought the new book was about her relationship with David Foster Wallace since half the interview was about her relationship with David Foster Wallace. Of course, it was NPR.

8. Even though I really like my new job, I still pine to be at home with my wife after being gone for about an hour.

9. This week we saw what it looked like for a pastor to apologize for blowing it in how he handled a pedophile case in his church and how he treated the victim. Apologies are rarely perfect. They just seem to be rare.

10. My ungracious expectations of my kids doing really well in school are not only ironic but hypocritical.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. We are preparing for our short visit to the beach, where I will eat fish and shrimp and sleep late and stare at Bethany in her swimsuit and listen to my children laugh in the excitement of being able to order a soft drink instead of water because we are wrapped up in the joy of being there.

2. Only a consumer would read the CEOs more than the poets.

3. Much of what you find beautiful as you grow older, you only caught a glimpse of as a young man. Maybe you knew there was something there, but had no words for it. Maybe there was no context for you to make sense of it with. But now it’s like a veil being lifted from a glowing bride’s face.

4. I am truly afraid of my boys playing baseball at the ballpark and what it will do to our family. This is not an attempt at humor. I did not like how my heart was glad when I saw that my son was not the worst player. That is an evil insecurity. It will be hard to hope my kids fail well and succeed well. I’d prefer to not worry over their skills. And I worry about our evenings of leisure being tapped and parched. I worry about the ballpark taking over.

5. I have never regretted one moment of listening to Van Morrison. It has never been a waste. It has always been good for me.

6. Have I mentioned how much I look forward to all the seafood at the beach?

7. It has been a long time since I’ve gone on a vacation without the dread of return.

8. When the dark night is all you’ve known, even though you’ve longed for the morning, it is something to be used to still.

9. The missing of my parents has become a broken pane letting air in, and then out, the kind you grow used to. Maybe it’s more like a dent you cannot knock out. Or a hole in the ground you cannot fill.

10. On Friday I read Heaney’s “A Requiem for the Croppies” while at lunch. I did know the story behind the poem, but the line “The hillside blushed, soaked with our broken wave” shot through me, even though I did not know The Battle of Vinegar Hill took place in the county of my ancestors.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts


1.Something happens in the news. Think piece is written. Rinse (forget) and repeat.

2. Tomorrow I get to wear jeans to work and there are gonna be bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. I will do whatever they ask me to do.

3. I don’t know if I’m more upset by those who used Ashley Madison to cheat on their spouses or those who use it for self-promotion.

4. Last night I finished a book of interviews with Seamus Heaney. I grew cold towards the book in the middle. But the end was worth it. I am richer now.

5. Morality is not our great struggle. It is the struggle to believe we are accepted and loved by the King of the Universe because of what he did and not what we do or did not do.

6. My wife made some chicken salad this week I would knock over a nun for.

7. Contra the naysayers, the reel mower is working out wonderfully. Working in the yard is far more enjoyable and we think it looks better than ever. (Eats quinoa)

8. My kids should be the ones I want to show grace to the most and yet…

9. I’m actually not sure we are supposed to be eating Quinoa.

10. The last Christmas before my Dad went on ahead, my parents gave me a telescope. They knew my love for sitting out in the yard and looking into the night sky. I think I used it once soon after. There was a string of really cold nights and the gift was pushed into a corner. About that time a darker night came and I could not bring myself to use it. I had trouble enjoying just about anything. Around the same time I remember taking out the trash on one of those perfect winter nights when the sky shines with stars from every corner and your eyes cannot catch them all. But I could not enjoy it. The very thing I used to crave and long for during the day was set against the darkness of the next day and the next day. I couldn’t even look up.

The other night I dusted off the telescope and we looked at the moon and saw it’s jagged edges and chalky canyons and oooooed and ahhhhed in the brightness of the night and I smiled at the future.


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