How Badly I Need Sundays

Sunday. The Sabbath day. The day of rest. Does a college student get a day of rest? Sometimes I’m not sure. For the past several Sundays I’ve tried to rest. I let my homework sit unfinished in the corner and I did something else. It probably helps that I don’t have any classes on Monday–in a way it’s cheating. Last week my friends and I started a tradition of cooking a big lunch together, and afterwards digesting. Some weeks–most weeks I take a nap. Some weeks I read book–not a school book. Lately it’s been U2 At the End of the World by Bill Flanagan. Some weeks I take pictures and manipulate them on my computer. Enjoying the outdoors is always a good use of Sunday. A few weeks ago Abby and I meandered along Pike Island, a small island in the backwaters of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. No matter what I do, it’s a day to relax and forget the headaches and responsibilities. It actually makes Sunday very enjoyable–which it should be. Nothing ruins Sunday faster than an afternoon of frantic homework, followed by an evening of even more frantic homework, and topped off with a late bedtime–making Monday that much more manic.

Some Sundays I feel a little too lazy. The next day I feel unmotivated to get back to work, the laziness still trying to slow me down. My roommate says that’s a sign of how badly I need my Sundays.

Who to Believe

The rain falls softly outside, pittering against windshields and sidewalks, making things damp but not wet. I tried to write today, tried to use what talent I have to explain a situation on the other side of the planet–many miles of winding road, many more miles of open ocean, and many more miles of road away. What can I say of second hand reports from this distant place? Second hand reports, second hand facts, second hand lies. It’s hard to know who to believe when you have so many different stories. But you see the pictures, you see the dying children. And how do you put it down in just the right words? You don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Perhaps that’s just the idea. But you have to do it in a way that works. A way that explains the severity and the difficulty of the situation. It’s not easy to convince people that their government lies–or at least twists the truth. You just sound like a crackpot. Some things are just big. Maybe a little too big. The best I can do is shine wavering flashlight in the general direction of the attack, where an innocent victim is being raped, and hope someone will know what to do–and have the guts to act.

The Cosby Show vs. The Evening News

Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make any comments yesterday on the election. Too close to call, ha! I wonder how the people who went tearing across campus at 1:30 a.m. feel.

All the issues, candidates, opinions, and beliefs aside, I hope Al Gore wins. Not because I voted for him and I want him to win, but because it would be very anti-climactic if George W. Bush is declared the winner after all. And then we couldn’t laugh at the media for calling the wrong man president. What would really be fun is if the final count in Florida tomorrow is so close they have to wait for the absentee ballots. That would mean 5-10 more days. I’d love to watch Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Jim Lehrer try to function for ten days without knowing the results of the election. It would throw our modern media–who are so intent on reporting what’s happening as it happens–into such a frenzy they wouldn’t know what to do. They’d all have nervous breakdowns and instead of watching the latest analysis on the evening news we could all watch reruns of “The Cosby Show.”

Exercising Democracy

Did you exercise your right of democracy today? I did. Actually, I did it last week. I voted by absentee ballot. And you know what? Absentee voters get the shaft. Everyone else gets to run around with a cool “I voted” sticker that proudly displays what hip and responsible citizens they are. Meanwhile the absentee voters get nothing and everyone thinks we’re lazy slouches who didn’t vote–when in reality we voted long before anyone else. I think all absentee ballots should come with an “I voted before you did” sticker.

I suppose as a consolation my ballot came with a voting pencil. It’s 2 1/2 inches long and 1/8 inch thick. Pretty cool, huh?

It’s 1:50 a.m. and the networks have declared a winner. I’m tempted to make a comment. Instead I’ll just make an observation. When I came home tonight I heard yelling and screaming echoing through the courtyard between the buildings of my townhouse. People were screaming out windows unintelligibly. There was an excitement in the air that you just don’t hear on a college campus. As I approached my door a mob of students came flooding from one townhouse carrying a billboard size George W. Bush sign. They took off across campus with it, screaming as they went (as a comical aside, one half of the sign advertised Rod Grams–the Minnesota Senator who lost). I’m not sure whether I should be excited at the display of youthful vigor for politics, or if I should be scared.

The Water Cycle

The rain falls like a fine mist, soaking everything before you realize it. The falling water makes puddles of our parking lots, streams of our sidewalks, and rivers of our roads. Bare patches of mud become deltas and nature laughs at our attempts to escape it.

The rain falls in the forest, yet there are no puddles. Every precious, life-giving drop is sucked up. What isn’t used seeps through the forest floor and collects in natural creeks, swamps, waterways. A cycle emerges.

Something we forgot.

Blogger Meets Employer

For several days I’ve been thinking about how this thing works, this daily thoughts thing. I always write about what’s on my mind, usually without any reservations. I’ve addressed a number of sensitive issues, and since this ReAL Thoughts thing started I’ve broken up with a girl friend of three years, started another relationship, proposed to that girl, and am dealing with the current separation of my parents. I usually don’t shy away from those issues, but if need be will usually disguise the specifics in generalities so I can talk about what’s bothering me without mentioning names. Usually this works fine.

Continue reading Blogger Meets Employer

Big Country on the Block

It boggles my mind the way the United States works. Our country is literally trying to be the biggest kid on the block. Our government is not interested in world peace or securing the power and position of the United Nations. Our government is simply interested in coming out on top. I was just reading a press release from the White House that focused on Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s comments about the situation in Israel and Iraq. A reporter confronted Albright with Amnesty International findings that Israel may be guilty of war crimes and is currently refusing to comply with UN Security Counsel resolutions. The reporter asked why the U.S. doesn’t condemn Israel’s action or cut off U.S. arms flow to Israel. Albright replied by talking about reducing violence and completely brushed the question off. She didn’t address the plain and simple question of U.S. policy. Apparently Israel can commit war crimes and defy the UN Security Counsel and we don’t care. Apparently you have to be on our good side. Now if you were a country like Iraq or Cuba or someone we don’t like, all hell would come loose. Is consistency too much to ask?

And it’s not just that one isolated instance. The situation with Iraq is even worse. Albright prattles on about how it’s Saddam Hussein’s fault and not the United States. She made the statement that “we didn’t invent Saddam Hussein.” But I wonder if we did. Who supplied Hussein with arms during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s? Who supplied Hussein with chemical and biological weapons that he used against his own people in 1988? Who was Hussein’s ally until the day before he invaded Kuwait? Um, that’d be us. Perhaps we did invent him. If the tables were turned, Washington would laugh. We expect Hussein to essentially drop his pants and let the world examine his arsenal. Only after that humiliating spectacle will we even think of lifting the sanctions. What would Washington say if we were given that ultimatum? They’d stubbornly refuse, just like Hussein is doing. Is it too much to ask for a little compassion and kind-heartedness from our government officials? Have they ever thought of trying on someone else’s shoes?

And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us. We wonder why someone ripped a forty by sixty foot hole in the USS Cole. Maybe it’s because we deserve it. Maybe it’s because we’re the big jerks on the planet and somebody has to hit us where it hurts.

Cider House Stinks

I watched Cider House Rules tonight and it’s raised a lot of interesting questions. Like how did this movie win an academy award? And that question has nothing to do with the politics of the movie. It was simply not a high quality film. The plot line was predictable and shied away from the really difficult questions. Dig into the movie’s political agenda (abortion), and you have all kind of difficulties. It certainly raises some valid points and makes you think, but couldn’t they have done it in a better way? They made no attempt to hide their bias, no attempt to fairly address the issue, no attempt to do anything more than push their pro-choice agenda. I realize that every movie and every piece of writing has it’s bias. They all have their own agenda. But there are ways to be more subtle about it. There are ways to be more effective. Don’t manipulate me for the sake of your political agenda. If you have a story to tell, then tell it. If you have an agenda to cram down my throat, go find some other sap.

The sad thing is that this criticism desperately needs to be heard by Christians. We’re often guilty of putting our agenda before anything else. And most Christians won’t see anything wrong with that. Jesus himself gave us this agenda, therefore it’s okay. That may be true, but then don’t expect anything you do in the name of Christ’s agenda to go beyond a Christian subcategory. If you put your propaganda first, it’s bound to ruin the medium–be it film, music, or writing. This is why Christian novels sell poorly. This is why Christian music is relegated to Christian radio stations. This is why Christian movies don’t make it to the box office.

Instead try telling a story, writing a song, or making a movie in a way that lets your Christianity shine through without overriding the genre. Don’t sit down to make something Christian. Sit down to make something. Christ will find a way to shine through. Just ask U2 or Toni Morrison or Flannery O’Connor.


You know you’re too dedicated when you look up and realize it’s 2:30 a.m.

Sometimes I think relief for the graduating senior is spelled j-o-b.

The movie version of the first Left Behind book came out today. It stars Kirk Cameron. From “Growing Pains” to Left Behind, now there’s a career.