Wednesday, August 31, 2005

08.28.05 Audio Now Posted

Sunday was a big vision day as we look forward to our jump to 3 services this Fall and move toward "Family Worship" together. In this weeks message, I tackled "A Vision for Family Worship" and tried to explain why we're committed to encouraging and facilitating families, parents and children, worshipping together in our worship services. It's countercultural and not the trend, so it demands explanation.

We always have people who can't be here on a particular Sunday, but if you missed this last Sunday, I want to encourage, implore, exhort, challenge you to listen to this sermon. If I could have you listen to any of the sermons I've preached in the last year, this is one I would choose, because it deals with our vision and where we're going in the coming months. Listen online by clicking below, or request a tape or CD, but please listen.

I heard few negatives and mostly positives, but I welcome all feedback. Do you get where we're going? Do you like it?

Here's those links. . . .

• If you want to listen to this week's message now, just. . . Click Here!

• If you want to "pull" the message from the website, go to. . . Connecting - Grace Church, San Luis Obispo.

• If you want this message and future messages "pushed" to you each week by subscribing to the FREE podcast at the iTunes music store just. . . . Click Here!

Hurry Up & Wait

The cradle is still empty. No baby yet! I just wanted to get through Sunday. Afterwards I was ready to go, but we're still waiting. God has His own timing and doesn't fit into my schedule. Susie went to the Doc yesterday who was flabbergasted that things had not progressed. No change from the week before, but she says things could start moving anytime and when they do they'll go fast.

So I am taking this week off and just lurking . . .. I figured I ought to keep blogging. Thanks for praying and caring.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Two posts ago in Freshman College Class of 2009, Mark left the following comment. . . .

Now most of the list from the article needs a bit more analysis/thought to make it anything but superficially important. But two items caught my eye off the bat as worth considering. First was the comment about this generations familiarity with and comsumption of cable entertainment. Apart from the incisive criticism that Neil Postman offers in pieces like *Amusing Ourselves to Death*, I think the church needs to consider how moving from a lexigraphical /word-based society to an image/pictorial society (with respect to processing information and even truth) affects how we communicate the Gospel. What roles do images play in the way this generation thinks about and understands things as true or compelling?

The reference to Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death reminded me what a great book that is. It may be one of the top ten influential books I have ever read. I need to read it again. It's actually a lament and strong critique of our continuing shift away from a print/word-based culture toward an visual/image based culture. He argues that we should stem the tide. The medium is the message and can't be separated from it.

So, Mark seems to be suggesting the opposite in his post. Do you agree with him? Should the church be moving from a word-based to a visual/image based approach to reaching the lost? God has ordained the Gospel message, but has He also ordained the Gospel medium? Should we be seeing pictures, instead of listening to sermons? How does faith come? By seeing? Jesus, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us, but He is no longer visibly present with us. So how do we show Him?

Any thoughts? Who's read Postman?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Attention Grace Mountain Bikers. . . .

In response to last weeks Old Stage Coach Road post, several have been asking about a big group ride. I just want to log in and tell you we're working on it!

We're trying to come up with a good date for a Saturday morning ride. We had talked about Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, but that doesn't look like its going to work. We'll let you know when we nail down another date. Jason Evangelista is the point man. If you're interested, drop Jason a line at or leave a comment here. We'd like to know just how many guys/gals we're talking about.

BTW, Jason and I rode again on Monday afternoon. Up Shooters, down Morning Glory! Rocked my world. Good for my heart. All this will probably come to a screeching halt when #4 arrives any day. It's been fun!

Freshman College Class of 2009

On the edge of another exciting Fall here in this little college town, when 3000+ college students will come crasing into town, I thought this article about the worldview of incoming freshman was interesting and curious. . .

Born in %u201987? You never lived without Starbucks - Education -

I read it in today's Tribune, but couldn't find it on the website, but found on MSNBC.

Here's a link to the entire list. . . .

Beloit College

Any reactions? Any thoughts?

Here a couple of mine:

1. I'm getting old!
2. We are living in an age of unprecedented change. Lot's of things change, but some things never change. Let's be about the unchanging truth!
3. I am so glad multiple generations are learning to appreciate and worship together here at Grace. It's a great challenge, but a great opportunity to "live the gospel" ala Phillipians 2.
4. We have a unique and ongoing opportunity to serve incoming freshmen and shape their "pop culture" worldview into a biblical worldview. Let's take advantage of it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

BIG changes at Grace this Fall!

There are some significant changes happening here at Grace this Fall. Most of them center around our move to 3 services on September 25th.

(You do know we're moving to 3 services on September 25, right? As a staff we've been blown away by the many who still don't know when that's happening! We've tried to make it so clear.)

This Sunday, assuming baby #4 doesn't arrive, I plan to address to the topic of Family Worship head on. . . Why we're committed to it. . . . our vision for it here at Grace. . . and what its going to mean for you and your family!

I want to encourage you to be thinking and reading about this topic in anticipation of our time together. Here are some resources I have recommended in an earlier post, but I wanted to recommned them again before Sunday.

1. Children & Congregational Worship: This is an article written by my good friend, David Hegg, who was last year's Family Conference speaker. David has thought alot about this issue, and I like his balanced and practical approach. David's article is available on the Grace website at

2. Bethlehem Baptist/John Piper Resources: It's easy for me to get "under the pile" when I look at some of the great materials John Piper and his team at Bethlehem Baptist have put together. I must remind myself that he's been at it there at Bethlehem for over 20 years. It takes time to develop this ministry philosophy stuff. Anyway they have put some excellent materials together on this issue of Family Worship. Check them out at

Here are a couple that I think are especially valuable. . . .


Suggestions for Helping Your Child Worship

Intergenerational teaching: Is it a nuisance or a blessing?

The Family: Together in God's Presence

Monday, August 22, 2005

08.21.05 Audio Now Posted

I so enjoyed our time of worship together yesterday. We looked at the stages and seasons of faith at the end of Matthew 14, where Jesus and then Peter, walks on water. . . Struggling, Risking, Doubting, Worshpping Faith in Jesus.

I am so blessed to be able to do what I do. . . preach, pray and lead.

• If you want to listen to this week's message now, just. . . Click Here!

• If you want to "pull" the message from the website, go to. . . Connecting - Grace Church, San Luis Obispo.

• If you want this message and future messages "pushed" to you each week, subscribe to the podcast at the iTunes music store (just punch "Living the Gospel" in the podcast search window) or using some other podcast software (ipodder, etc) and this link. . .

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pornography & the Church

Pastor Steve and the College Ministry Staff are really doing a great job with The Source blog. I was just catching up and came across an especially thought-provoking and troubling post. If you haven't seen it, pop over and read it.

the source: pornography and the church

Old Stage Coach Road

After breaking my collar bone about this time last year, I am back on my mountain bike trying to ride 2-3 times a week. So yesterday, our Summer Youth Intern, Jason Evangelista, lured me into my longest ride to date.

We met at the Apple Farm, got on the 101 North, then got off at Old Stage Coach Road, climbed to the top of the Cuesta grade and then came down a great trail called "Shooters" that emptied out in Poly Canyon.

Though I about died, the ride was awesome! Jason was kind (or crafty) in not telling me exactly what I was getting myself into.
I have been preparing to preach Matthew 14:22-36, the text where Peter walks on water with Jesus. So I was thinking about the nature of faith in all its dimensions. As I slowly climbed up Stagecoach Road, it was good that I could only see a section of the incline in front of me, because if I would have seen the whole enormous hill from the outset, I probably would never have made it. But I couldn't see around the next curve. Between here and there, the path was pleasant and shaded with trees. I could hear the creek in the canyon below me. So I just took it one piece at a time and tried to enjoy each section as it came.

In my faith walk with Jesus, I always want to know exactly what's ahead, but maybe it's God's mercy and grace that He doesn't show us the whole road, but only the next bend in the road. If we saw what was up ahead, maybe we'd never make it. Maybe we'd get discouraged and give up instead of going on. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows where He's leading us. Our challenge is to enjoy the trees and the creek even while we're sometimes climbing the hill in agony. . . by faith.

So Jason smoked me to the top. He probably was waiting there 10-15 minutes. But I made it. He was kind and didn't rub it in too much. Once at the top, we got to experince the breathtaking views and the rush of coming down the long single track.

Thanks, Jason!

Oh yeah, the picture is of Jason, somewhere near the top of Shooters, taken with his mobile phone. That's San Luis Obispo in the background. He looks pretty serious, doesn't he? (Yes, that's my finger in the corner!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Awesome Alpha Academy

Have you heard of the Alpha Academy? Jack Gould, an active congregant here at Grace, started the Alpha Academy as a beautiful 40 acre ranch to serve as a transitional home for young men trying to figure out their direction in life. The Alpha Academy's stated mission is to mentor young adults seeking direction in acquiring the spiritual, emotional, and physical skills necessary to lead successful, responsible, lives.

Not long ago, I had a chance to get out there and see and experience the hospitality of the ranch over off Buckley Road. What a neat thing is going on out there! This is kingdom work, one transformed life at a time!

One of the things I like best about the Alpha Academy is their goal of becoming a self-funded, self-supporting ministry. To that end, they are designing intentional ministries to partner with local churches and to generate income in a way that allows these young people to see how life, hard work and money all work together. . . .

MissionCars is a ministry that handles and processes cars that are donated to other ministries. Sometimes a donated car is more of a curse than a blessing. MissionCars seeks to eliminate the hassle and headache.

Web Cars and Trucks is a service that will locate and purchase for you the used car of your dreams at great price plus a small fee. Again, let these young men handle the hassle!

Thousand Hills Pet Resort is a short term care facility for your pet. I've called around. . . .there is a shortage of places to care for pets here on the Central Coast. This a great idea to meet a real need! Call them the next time you head out of town on vacation!

Is all this cool or what? I am going to shoot Jack an email and let him know he's been blogged. What I need you to do is to leave him an encouraging comment here at Life Together. . . and use one of these valuable services to support the Alpha Academy the next time you have the opportunity!

Keep up the good work, Jack! We are praying for you and for God's work at the Alpha Academy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

08.14.05 Audio Now Posted

This Sunday, in Matthew 14, we saw that Jesus is the servant king who feels, the servant king who involves, the servant king who provides. Indeed, that's what the cross is all about. Jesus' work in Matthew 14 foreshadows and is a precursor to His real work at the cross. This passage, like all of them, led us to the cross and to the Communion table.

If you missed our morning in the comings and goings of summer, catch up and listen along. . . . .

• If you want to listen to this week's message now, just. . . Click Here!

• If you want to "pull" the message from the website, go to. . . Connecting - Grace Church, San Luis Obispo.

• If you want this message and future messages "pushed" to you each week, subscribe to the podcast at the iTunes music store (just punch "Living the Gospel" in the podcast search window) or using some other podcast software (ipodder, etc) and this link. . .

Monday, August 15, 2005

Podcasting Revisited

I've got to tell you. . . I am continuing to enjoy this whole podcasting revolution. I like being able to select the content that I want to listen to instead of having it pushed at me. There are more and more podcasts from places all over the world on all sorts of subjects.

Two podcasts I regularly enjoy are "Inside Mac Radio" (Apple Computer News) and "Reel Reviews: Films Worth Watching." It's awesome to be able to take these shows with me on my iPod, but I would also listen to them through my computer, if I didn't have an iPod.

I was in a gathering of pastors last week over at the Parable offices, and the subject of podcasting came up. Tom Ferrell from Atascadero Bible Church shared that they've just started podcasting their sermons which, like ours, are now available at the iTunes Music Store. Then Bryan Stupar from CalvarySLO pulls me aside and asks me, "How do you do this podcasting thing? Can you show me?" Who knows where this will go, but it seems to be going somewhere.

I think there should be more podcasts created here on the Central Coast. Here are podcasts I would be interested in:

• News & Views of the Central Coast
• Upcoming Cultural Events Happening here on the Central Coast
• What God is doing here on the Central Coast
• Moments in Central Coast History
• Sports News of the Central Coast
• SLO Chamber of Conference News
• SLO Downtown Association Happenings
• Moutain Biking on the Central Coast
• Parenting on the Central Coast

I would listen to the Dave Congalton show (920 KVEC) if it was podcasted. I think Dave's show is interesting, informative and showcases the broad diversity of the Central Coast. I usually catch only a portion of Dave's show on my way home at the end of the day. (Is there any other local radio programming that anyone wants to recommend?)

So here are some questions. . .

1. Do you get this whole podcasting thing? If so, is it a useful technology for you?
2. What podcasts are you enjoying?
3. What podcasts of a local or special interest nature might you be interested in?

Finally, if you want to get started listening to podcasts, here's all you have to do:

1. Download the free Mac or PC iTunes 4.9 software.
2. Open the softwware and click the iTunes Music Store.
3. Select Podcasts and start browsing for podcast (Punching "San Luis Obispo" in the search field will take you right to Grace's sermon podcast!)
4. When you have found a podcast that intersts you, hit the subscribe button.
5. The settings button in the lower right corner will allow you to preferences for how often podcasts are updated.
6. Have fun! Listen and learn.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Congrats to Agape Christian Fellowship

Several pastors gathered this morning to dedicate the newly built Agape Christian Fellowship facility over off O'Conner Road on the Foothill side of town. It's a beautiful campus. The Lord has blessed. We rejoice with those who rejoice. Pastor Mike Sparrow shared his hope and prayer for the new Agape facilities from 2 Chronicles 7. . . .

(If) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. --I Chroniciles 7:14-16

That is an awesome passage and all the pastors agreed that's our prayer for all our churches. . . that His eyes would be open and His ears attentive, and His heart present with His people in our church places!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bono, take #2

I tell you, I never know what's going to stimulate some dialogue here at Life Together. I love it! Bono sure got a few folks going in the last post. What a surprise!

I feel compelled to offer a few more thoughts in response to "torokun's" comments. So here is his/her comment and then a few random thoughts.

As a U2 fan... I kinda don't know what to say.

does Bono really get it? or not?

I have no doubt that he "understands" the message of the gospel and knows even how to articulate it.

But, in his publicized private life, I just don't see the life that is regenerated. But, not knowing Bono personally, I can't really hold my opinion about his faith based on that.

Here is what I'm concerned about his faith that makes me questioin his completion of justification. And It's very simple at the core. What is THE truth that Bono holds on to?

Students of Bible knows that if you take just one thing (or add one thing) to the truth, it is no longer "the truth" anymore. It becomes a lie. In Bono's publicized collection of faith, it is clear that his cause for reaching out to the third world countries is the priority. And it overrides everything else. His ecumenical view on multiple religions also makes me question his faith.

If we start researching and listing all these things, it would be a long discussion.

What I'm ultimately amazed about is how quickly people credit other people for having a "true faith" and being a "true christian". Under the umbrella of modern evangelical, man-centered gospel presentation, I guess it's an obvious reaction. I myself was there for many many years.

And at the heart of it, Bono reminds me so much of one of my friends. Understanding of the gospel, the world view, political bias... It is uncanny how much he reminds me of Bono. I love him dearly. And I know he can argue and make the same confession of faith that Bono made about his understanding of the gospel. But, is his life the one that is truely a regenerate one? Is his faith the one that is reflected in many of our
Lord's teaching? About complete surrender to God's will? Somehow, I have this drop of doubt and uncertainty that holds my tongue back from giving him such credit...

let me know what you think...

A few of my thoughts. . . .

• I don't know much about the "fruit" of Bono's faith. I don't follow his life. But I do see what appears to the "root" of bono's faith in the article quoted: Bono purports to believe in the substitutionary atonement for sins accomplished by Jesus Christ's death on the cross. This appears to the ground of his hope. He appears to believe in the diety of Christ. He knows he's a great sinner in need of a Great Savior. He says he needs Grace. There appears to be brokenness and faith.

• Is not Bono's verbal confession of faith, evidence of spiritual fruit in his life? He's boldly sharing Christ with this guy! Likewise, he appears to exhibit an ongoing brokenness and dependence on the grace of Jesus. Is not this also fruit?

• Having said all this, no one can know the heart and soul of another. I don't and can't know if Bono is a Christian. I don't know if you are a Christian, and you don't know if I am. Perhaps rather than "Bono believes the Gospel," I should have said "Bono confesses the Gospel."

• When it comes to fruit inspection, it seems to me we should be fruit inspectors of our own lives, but not other's lives. God is the judge and heart examiner. Bono will stand before God, not me. I do not mean to justify or glorify Bono.

• All of this raises questions like. . . . What is essential doctrine?, What is mere Christianity? How do we know we're true believers? How much fruit is enough? What are the boundaries of our fellowship with those who differ in lifestyle, non-essential beliefs, etc? What is the basis of our unity?

• I have very rarely, if ever, seen such a clear explanation of the Gospel from a high profile celebrity like Bono. It was encouraging and refreshing to me. Could each of us articulate the Gospel in such clear, compelling, personal fashion? If not, why not?

• The Kingdom in its now and present form is mixed-up and messy. God will do the sorting and the separating. We're unqualified. Let's cast the nets and haul in the catch (Matthew 13:47+)

• Anonymous commenters need to show their faces. It's part of the blog thing.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bono's Salty Dogma

This week's issue of World Magazine contains an article by Gene Edward Veith entitled Salty Dogma about Bono, the lead singer of U2.

As a long ago fan of U2, I have often wondered about the state of Bono's faith. This article leaves no question. Bono gets the Gospel. Bono believes the Gospel. Bono tells others about the Gospel.

Because it's short, here's the article in its entirety. . . .

Is Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2, a Christian? He says he is and writes about Christianity in his lyrics. Yet many people question whether Bono is "really" a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics (though he has been faithfully married for 23 years). But in a new book of interviews, Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, Bono, though using some salty language, makes an explicit confession of faith.

The interviewer, Mr. Assayas, begins by asking Bono, Doesn't he think "appalling things" happen when people become religious? Bono counters, "It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma."

The interviewer asks, What's that? "At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one," explains Bono. "And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."

The interviewer asks, Like what? "That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge," says Bono. "It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."

Then the interviewer marvels, "The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that."

"The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death," replies Bono. "It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven."

The interviewer marvels some more: "That's a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it's close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has His rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?"

Bono comes back, "Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: 'I'm the Messiah.' I'm saying: 'I am God incarnate.' . . . So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that's farfetched."

What is most interesting in this exchange is the reaction of the interviewer, to whom Bono is, in effect, witnessing. This hip rock journalist starts by scorning what he thinks is Christianity. But it is as if he had never heard of grace, the atonement, the deity of Christ, the gospel. And he probably hadn't. But when he hears what Christianity is actually all about, he is amazed.

08.07.05 Audio Now Posted

This last Sunday, we considered Matthew 14:1-13 and the question, "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Godly People?" It was a bit of kingdom realism. The world is broken. The universe is at war. In John the Baptist and Herod we see again two ways to live by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ which brings freedom or by self for self, which brings bondage and destruction.

As usual, it was a great time together. . . . Audio from the message is now posted in all the usual places.

• If you want to listen to this week's message now, just. . . Click Here!

• If you want to "pull" the message from the website, go to. . . Connecting - Grace Church, San Luis Obispo.

• If you want this message and future messages "pushed" to you each week, subscribe to the podcast at the iTunes music store (just punch "Living the Gospel" in the podcast search window) or using some other podcast software (ipodder, etc) and this link. . .

Better with Time. . . .

Susie and I celebrated our 12th anniversary yesterday without our children, who are down in Escondido with their cousins and grandparents. What a glorious afternoon! We enjoyed a tasty lunch at Big Sky Cafe, a bit of meandering through downtown, a lazy nap in the sun, and a romantic movie to top it all off.

Reflecting on our 12 years, it's so encouraging to say things are getting better and better. Those early years were tough, to say the least. God has been good. His grace is sufficient. The Gospel transforms people and relationships. It is good to love and be loved over the long haul. Seeing the Lord's faithfulness over these seasons of life, gives me great hope to live by faith in the unfolding seasons up ahead. I give thanks for Susie. . . . she's just what I need!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Vacation Reading, part 4

Fall is such a time of new begnnings and a chance for us to take stock of who we are as a church and where we're going. I am committed to preaching some sort of vision series each Fall. As I was thinking about this Fall's vision series, I have been reflecting some more on the nature of Christian community. Jim Kallman's "A Risking Church" helped in the process. If you're looking for some August reading and want to prepare for the Fall with me, grab it and read it before we get there together.

Fall 2005 is going to be an exciting time at Grace as we, by faith, leap toward three services on September 25. This Sunday will be your first Sunday to register for our 2nd Annual Outdoor Fall Kick-Off on Sunday, September 18. This will be another great chance to jump in and serve our broader community together as we celebrate, proclaim and the live the Gospel of Jesus on the Central Coast and beyond. Be praying now about who you might invite to join us for that fun and exciting day!

Do you see Grace as a "Risking Church?" What kind of risks are we taking with one another and in our ministry together?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Vacation Reading, part 3

On vacation a couple weeks back, I also read Lou Giglio's "I am not, but I know I AM." This is a great challenge to live a God-centered life. He has some great stuff about the our smallness in the light of the enormity of the universe. We are not. . . the center of the universe, but He is. There is also some helpful insights about the place of sabbath rest in learning to internalize "I am not," which relate to our study of sabbath rest from Matthew 12 a couple of months back. Our whole lives should proclaim. . . . "I am not, but I know I AM." AMEN!

Good devotional reading. I like the way the book's graphic layout reflected the theme. Who's read it?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Vacation Reading, Part 2

Here's one from my daughter Sage's vacation reading list. . . .Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You've seen the old movie. Maybe even the new movie. (I am eager to see Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. . . great casting), but have you read the book?

The 40th Anniversary edition is incredibly illustrated.

Here's the Oompa Loompa TV song. . . incredible that this was written in 1964. . . .Ronald Dahl was a prophet!

'The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set –
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink –
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exacts what
This does to your beloved tot?
"All right!" you'll cry. "All right!" you'll say,
"But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children! Please explain!"
We'll answer this by asking you,
"What used the darling ones to do?
How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?"
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY... USED... TO... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
TO READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and –
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr Rat and Mr Mole –
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The streams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks –
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start – oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean.
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

Vacation Reading, Part 1

I mentioned last Thursday that I did a fair amount of reading on my vacation. This week, I'll share thoughts about some books I read.

I kept hearing and seeing references to Flannery O'Connor in the things I was reading and listening. So I got myself a copy of her collected works. Flannery O'Connor is a Christian Catholic writer who wrote lots of dark short stories. Her writing always points to the depravity of humankind in all its manifestations. I read "Wise Blood" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Funny, sad, witty, and thought-provoking . . . . all at the same time. This lady knew human nature!

Has anybody read any Flannery O'Connor?