Platefull

When my posts were less regular (OK, no smirking), I often felt the need to use valuable space establishing a context for some of my more peculiar writings, lest they (or I) be misunderstood. I’ve decided that weekly writings diminish the need to establish such context, since you can presumably analyze me by reviewing previous posts. Or, to use the weather as an analogy, if you don’t like the hot air, wait ’til it rains.

After last week’s single-subject techno-yawner, this week’s blather more resembles my plate at a family reunion after my first trip through the line – a wide plethora of sample-size servings, piled atop, beneath, and beside each other in a mish-mash that only someone of my peculiar gustatory tendencies would consider edible.

PASSING

Gumby creator Art Clokey died last week. In case you have been lost on an uncharted island [goof1], Gumby is an old-time television character made of green clay, who was animated using the “stop motion” technique. Gumby got his start following Clokey’s 1953 three-minute film short called Gumbasia, described as “a surreal montage of moving and expanding lumps of clay set to music in a parody of Disney’s Fantasia.” If you go back and click Gumbasia, you can view the film.

Frisbee inventor Walter Frederick Morrison also went for his last spin [goof2]. (Intellectual Property note: Morrison was awarded US Design Patent 183,626 for his flying disc.) The term “Frisbee” was apparently based on the Frisbie Pie Company, the name of the New England pie manufacturer whose pie pans were key elements in Morrison’s early research. Lest you think flying disc innovation is a solitary endeavor, Morrison’s work was supplemented by Wham-O GM & Marketing VP “Steady” Ed Headrick, who, according to Wikipedia, “redesigned the Frisbee (originally called the Pluto Platter) by reworking the rim thickness, and top design, creating a more controllable disc that could be thrown accurately.” In many families, Frisbees have been replaced by Wiimotes, which cost more, but don’t get stuck on the roof as often.

RESIGNATIONS

Bayh

Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate, stating that, “There’s too much partisanship and not enough progress – too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even in a time of enormous challenge, the people’s business is not being done.”

Pundits with either long memories or good search engines noted that Bayh’s decision echoed New Jersey’s Bill Bradley who announced fifteen years ago that he would not seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate and declared that American politics was “broken,” in part because of mindless partisanship in Washington. [Source]

I found an interesting commentary here.

Netherlands

The government of the Netherlands, led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, has resigned due to “disagreements between coalition members over a possible extension of the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan.”

The notion of a coalition government is somewhat unfamiliar to most Americans. Apparently it means that a leader has to find enough opponents to agree to support him/her before he/she can take over running the country. Wikipedia’s description sheds little light on the subject: “The politics of the Netherlands take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy and a decentralised unitary state. The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics and governance are characterised by a common striving for broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole.”

Perhaps a mild version of a coalition would be the new Atlanta mayor’s transition team and search committees, which include several people who opposed him in the primary and final elections. Seems like a cool thing to do.

“Consociational” eh? Hmmm.

WRITINGS

Christian Smith

Smith has written a book called Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, with Patricia Snell. I haven’t read the book, but the review I read has tempted me to find a copy.

As I continue to analyze my Southern Baptist upbringing and parenting history, in contrast to my current, well-intended theological meanderings, I’m interested in what a diligent writer has to say about this part of our culture.

A quote from a review to whet your appetite – … what most American teenagers call faith is what Smith dubbed moralistic therapeutic deism, an interpersonal riff on American civil religion that tends to masquerade as Christianity but bears few similarities to the historic teachings of the Christian church and is mostly used to lubricate relationships. The remarkable consistency between the religious outlooks of teenagers and parents led Smith to conclude that moralistic therapeutic deism has colonized American churches and is now the dominant religion in the United States. Soul Searching ends with an odd admonition: a team of sociologists urges congregations to get down to business and teach their faith traditions to teenagers.

“Moralistic therapeutic deism” eh? Hmmm again.

Rick Steves

Rick is an author, historian, and television personality who can be described as a “world traveler”. In a recent interview, he tried to describe the differences between being a tourist and being a pilgrim with stories such as the following.

“One of my favorite moments as a tour guide took place in a village in Turkey. Our group was in the mayor’s living room. He showed me a place on his wall where he hung his Qur’an bag – the most holy place in a Muslim home. He said to me, “In my Qur’an bag I keep a Bible, a Torah and the Qur’an, because Christians, Jews and Muslims are all people of the Word, children of the Book and of God.”

How amazing it would be if we could all share the same “bag” – share the same planet and be thankful to our Creator. Those are the kinds of eye-opening experiences that I try to bring to people through our program. ”

The interview ends with his concern for affordable housing, and the story of how he used part of his retirement nest egg to refurbish a building and donated it to the YWCA.

Here’s the interview.

UTOPIAS, failed and otherwise

Fordlandia

I saw a reference to the industrial town Henry Ford tried to establish in the Amazon Rainforest in 1928 as a rubber source. Here are a couple of photos which you may click for a brief description of the failed effort.



Sara Miles

If you’ve read this far (1) you are probably patient or clinically bored, and (2) you may have picked up that I recently read a copy of Christian Century magazine. I thought I was through harvesting, but I went back to read one more article because a phrase caught my eye as I turned the pages.

It’s an excerpt from a book by Sara Miles, Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead, that not only resonated with some of my current questions and thoughts, but that also brought a tear to my eye. She’s a good writer with a good spirit. I couldn’t find an on-line version, but here’s an excerpt^2. It describes the conclusion of a crazy evening in which they hosted a multi-course neighborhood meal in a borrowed restaurant as a benefit for their food pantry, feeding 250 people.


We celebrated Eucharist at midnight in the middle of the dining room, lit by strings of Christmas lights glinting off the metallic horse posters. My feet hurt more than they had in 20 years and my shirt was slippery with grease. The waiters and dishwashers came out, curious, as I handed Paul a loaf of French bread…. Karen looked exhausted, but she was standing nearby. The hipster waiter was drinking Jameson’s from a teacup. Anthony and his sous-chef Emma were at an uncleared table with a couple of friends…. The hostess came over with a stack of bills. She was a tall girl with elegant shoes. “I know Anthony and Karen are going to give you the profits from tonight,” she said. “But I want to give you my tips, too. Can you use it to get more food for your pantry?”

You can read the excerpt, called “Kitchen Communion”, in the February 9th issue of CC, or you can buy the book.

DESSERT

None for me, thanks. I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed.


GOOFERENCES

Gooference 1: A ship carrying tanks of red and blue paint crashed into an uncharted island. The crew was marooned.

Gooference 2: Frisbeetarianism – the belief that when you die your soul gets stuck on the roof.

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