Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Wedding Banquet

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a perplexing parable about a king who prepares a wedding banquet for his son.  He tells his servants to gather all who've been invited but they refuse to come.  He gets upset, sends out more servants but the potential wedding guests don't want to be bothered and kill the servants.

The king is enraged so he sends his army to destroy the murderers and burn down their city.  Then he tells his servants to go out into the street and invite everyone they see to the banquet.

OK, we've all gone to wedding banquets that have had some glitches.  So we get it.  Looks like the king made the best of a bad situation.

But then when the king finds a man at the party who is not wearing wedding clothes.  Matthew 22:12-14 ends the story this way:

"'Friend, he asked, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?  The man was speechless.  Then the king told the attendants. 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'  For many are invited, but few are chosen.'"

OK, I get the lesson but it seems unduly harsh to me.  So when, a couple of days ago, I read an article about a woman in Indianapolis  (my home town) it reminded me of this parable - only with a twist.

Sarah's Wedding Banquet Guests
Sarah Cummins and her fiance called off their wedding a week before the ceremony.  They were left with a nonrefundable contract for the Ritz Charles in Carmel (an upscale suburb of Indianapolis) for a plated dinner for 170 guests.

Sarah, a 25-year-old pharmacy student at Purdue University, decided that rather than throw away the food she would bring some purpose to the event and began contacting area homeless shelters until she had 170 folks lined up.  She greeted each one of her guests, including a dozen veterans, as they arrived.  And (get this) several local businesses and residents donated suits, dresses and other items for the guests to wear.  (So, thankfully there was no weeping and gnashing of teeth outside the Ritz Charles in Carmel last Saturday.)

I love this story and I think Jesus loves it too.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

How Iran and Florida are Different

In Tehran the big Zumba craze is in jeopardy because Zumba classes have been officially banned in Iran.  The edict says that Zumba is "contrary to Islamic precepts."  In fact, any female rhythmic, harmonious,  body movements, even when they are done in the privacy of the women's gym, are illegal.

Oh my!

One of the reasons given is that men are being corrupted by watching on line videos.  I'm happy to see that the women of Iran are not taking this lying down and are fighting for ways to continue this popular form of dancing exercise.  By the way, dancing in any form is illegal in Iran.

Meanwhile, a new way of exercising is becoming popular in South Florida.  It's not Zumba.  It's naked yoga.  That's right.  Like those parades in Key West, it's apparently more fun if you're naked.  And don't worry about body image issues.  One studio owner says, "Everybody looks better naked."


The yoga teacher says "After the initial 'everybody take off your clothes,' it's pretty natural.  Because you kind of forget everybody else in the room...It's kind of really beautiful to see everybody moving.  You just kind of see bodies."

It seems to me that the two statements above directly contradict themselves but I guess I'm "kind of" prudish, and old, and wrinkled.

But maybe we could take some of these South Florida naked yoga instructors over to Tehran to try to get these Islamic clerics to loosen up.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Feel Good News

Two of yesterday's news stories were heart warming to me.  First, the teen aged girls' robotics team from Afghanistan was finally granted visas to enter the United States.  This is after being denied twice.  Nobody seems to know why these girls were denied.  Afghanistan is not one of the countries on the "banned" list.

The girls will compete in Washington D.C. against 160 other teams from all over the world. These are teens who excel in science, technology, engineering and math.  (STEM)

We can imagine the girls' devastation after breaking down so many barriers and then being denied entrance into the country where this great competition is being held.  But the decision was reversed, citing "significant public benefit."


The second story is about one of my all time favorite people, Jimmy Carter, age 93. You may remember he had brain cancer a couple of years ago but refused to make a big deal of it and is now, apparently, in remission.

So yesterday he was, as usual, in his hard hat working on a Habitat for Humanity house when he became ill. Let me say here that the quiet Rosalynn, age 90 was, as usual working right along side him.  He was taken to the hospital but the former peanut farmer and president of the  United States, was merely dehydrated.  When asked if he had any advice for the rest of he said yes:

Stay hydrated and build something.


Sunday, July 9, 2017


Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel play the
same character in the film "Lion."
Dave and I finally saw the 2017Acadamy Award nominated film "Lion" yesterday.  We both knew the story because we'd seen the real Saroo on "60 Minutes" tell this harrowing tale about his young life in India.

In a nutshell, little Saroo gets lost and travels over 500 miles from his village in an empty train, never to see his family again -  until 25 years later.  The first hour of the movie is just this unbelievably sweet, tiny five year old, all alone, trying to stay alive.  Danger is everywhere.  It's emotionally wrenching to watch.

Then he miraculously gets adopted by a loving white family in Australia.  So life should be hunky dory.  But it isn't because he needs to know who he is.  He needs to let his mom and brother know he's OK.  He needs to address his past.

This, to me,  is a universal story.  It's tough for all of us when we can't remember but also can't forget. The part of the film that is a gift to all of us is technology.  Thirty year old Saroo discovers Google Earth.  It takes a while but Google Earth enables him to discover his home.  Doesn't seem believable, huh?

But on Google Earth I have visited my 1950s home (or what's left of it) several times.  I've traveled from my house on Bloyd Avenue, to the corner, turned left onto Caroline and then traveled to Roosevelt where my 1950s teen aged self would hop on the trolley.

Dave, on Google Earth, has visited the Hebron Boarding School in India where he attended kindergarten after his parents, in Malasia,  put him on a boat with strangers to make the trip to India.  He was five years old just like Saroo.

These are Google Earth trips to our childhood that we've taken in order to clear up some cobwebs.

So Saroo's ability to mend his childhood by finding his birth mother in a country of 1.3 billion people is maybe not so unbelievably miraculous after all.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chaos to Calm - Join the Marines

We all know examples of calm after chaos.   The requirement for turning chaos into calm is structure.  There are all kinds of structure; like the church, school, military, hospital, prison, home and so on.  We think we don't want it but we can't succeed in life without it.

I'm just finishing the huge bestseller, "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance.  It should be required reading for a number of reasons but the over-all theme, to me, is about how hard it is to escape a chaotic life.   It seems like a strange concept but, a a crucial time, the Marine Corps provided structure to bring about calm in J.D.'s life.

The Marine Corps assumes maximum ignorance from its enlisted folks.  It assumes that no one taught you anything about physical fitness, personal hygiene, or personal finances.  I took mandatory classes about balancing a checkbook, saving, and investing.  When I came home from boot camp with my fifteen hundred-dollar earning deposit in a mediocre regional bank, a senior enlisted marine drove me to Navy Federal - a respected credit union - and had me open an account....In the Marines, my boss didn't just make sure I did a good job, he made sure I kept my room clean, kept my hair cut, and ironed my uniforms.  He sent an older marine to supervise as I shopped for my first car so that I'd end up with a practical car, like a Toyota or a Honda, not the BMW that I wanted. 

J.D. Vance went from living a chaotic hillbilly life to graduating from Yale Law School.  His story reminds us of how much of, if not most of, America lives.

The marines were certainly not the only thing that saved him.  He was a smart kid growing up with a bunch of dysfunctional hillbillies - but he was well loved.  Read the book.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

I Love My Bathroom

This is my bathroom.  Certainly not fancy by today's standards. What makes it special is that it's mine. Dave has his own.  My bathroom always looks pretty much the way you see it here.  Why?  Because it's mine.

When I was a kid in Indianapolis in the '50s we had one small bathroom.  When I first started spending summers on a farm with my aunt and uncle in southern Indiana, we had an outhouse.  Later, a bathroom was fashioned from a small bedroom - and I can assure you this was a very big deal.  Occasionally I stayed with another aunt and uncle and their children in Louisville, Kentucky.  They lived in what is sometimes called a duplex but we called a double.  That's because the two units were mirror images, except in the very back was one bathroom.  Both families shared this bathroom.  (It was important to remember to lock both doors.)

When Dave was growing up in Independence, Kansas he lived with his aunt who was a high school teacher, his grandmother and a boarder.  They all shared one bathroom.

When my four kids were growing up and we lived mostly in parsonages we mostly had two bathrooms although in the later years the parsonages kept getting bigger and fancier - with more bathrooms which, by that time, we didn't need.  (But that's another story.)

All of the above was pretty much the norm for middle class America at the time.

Last night, while playing cribbage, I suggested that we each try to count the number of bathrooms our kids have.  I know that three of my children (that's three homes) have a combination of 14 bathrooms.  That doesn't count the bathrooms in my son's second home.  But that is a work in progress so the count isn't in.  My other daughter currently lives in a very small space and has one bathroom.  But in her day she had her share of many-bathroomed homes.

Dave tried to count the total number of bathrooms in the two homes of his two children but he wasn't sure.  It's somewhere between 7 and 8.

If you've ever read a history of bathrooms you understand that this is a remarkably good time in which to live, bathroom-wise.  I'm just so thankful to finally have my very own.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Want to Be a Prime Atttactor

The term "Prime Attractor" sounds like a really cool, sexy person.  But I recently read a quote about Saint Francis (not Pope Francis but I guess it might apply to him as well) that I love and can't get out of my head:

Saint Francis was what some call a "prime attractor" - one who moves history and humanity forward just by being who he is. 

I think that most people would find this state of being almost impossible to comprehend but now that I've moved way over from "doing" to "being," I get it!

  • I get it when I'm interacting with my kids.
  • I get it when I'm having lunch with my friends who are struggling with their careers.
  • I get it when I'm struggling with this crazy new illness that has visited me out of the blue.  
  • I get it when I'm renegotiating my bundle with the cable company.  
  • I get it when I try to carefully respond to our current political situation, locally, nationally and internationally.  

I used to think that the best eulogy for me would be to be compared to "The Good Wife." I mean the one in Proverbs (not Juliana Margulies)  who takes care of everybody and everything thing and in her spare time dabbles in real estate.  Now I'd rather be remembered a Prime Attractor. who moves history and humanity forward just by being who I am.