A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man

So I went on this self-absorbed rant yesterday about what a doorknob I am. Blog-confessionals are a bit weird, because in essence you’re broadcasting your flub to the entire planet. And when your flub is being big-headed, that seems a bit counter-productive. But in this case I think it helped. I didn’t get an avalanche of e-mail from devoted fans telling me how cool they think I am (and thankfully no e-mails from my frantic mother). I didn’t see thousands of dots on my guestmap (which I won’t anyway, because it only holds 40 at a time). I did see three more dots on my map and I got one e-mail from someone who calls me “Journally Man.” That one person even quoted some Madeliene L’Engle at me, who I apparently introduced them to. You can’t ask for more than that.

That one e-mail reminded me why I do this. Four and a half years ago, I wrote these words describing why I was starting this online journal: “I just hope that at times my jumbled mess of thoughts will make sense to someone, and make them think. Maybe you’ll step away from your computer screen a changed person. Or maybe you’ll just laugh and shake your head.”

The goal isn’t fame or money or traffic–it’s simply sharing a little hope and making people think. That’s all I really need to worry about. Of course it’s never that easy, but it’s the thought that counts.

I think part of my ego problem is that I always think I’m something that I’m not. I have a writing major and I like to write, so I think that makes me a world-famous writer. I may have that potential in me, but it doesn’t mean anything unless I prove it. And maybe making a few people think through this silly website is more than enough. But part of me itches for that published fame, and I think it may be greed. I’ve read enough books about writing to know that writers are poor. Rookies like me put so much stock in being published, in writing a book, in seeing our name in lights. We forget that being published is terribly hard work, that proceeds from a book amount to squat, that only a handful of writers make the bigtime money.

You’d think I’d just accept that and move on. But I don’t. So my head is wrapped up in ego, in pride, in selfishness, in greed, in glory. Forgive me Father, for I am but a man.

I miss the confessional in the liturgical calendar.

I’m a selfish old crank, and that fits me like a Speedo

I’m so full of myself, it’s really kind of disgusting. I thought I left my self-conscious pride behind in high school, but oh no. I’m just as immature now as I was then.

A hyper-self-consciousness used to drive me. My hair wasn’t cool, so I wore a hat. I had zits (like everyone else) that I tried to pop in class, only to draw blood. My jeans weren’t grunge enough, my flannels weren’t authentic enough. I thought I would die freshman year when I saw Courtney Wolfe had the same jacket my mother bought me a week before. And my ‘poster-boy-for-Jesus’ T-shirts? Let’s not go there.

I wasn’t cool and I knew and accepted that fact, but it didn’t stop me from freaking out about it. When it comes down to it, I wanted everyone to think the best of me. I had (and still have) an ego the size of Jupiter, and it takes the adoration of others to feed that ego.

Continue reading I’m a selfish old crank, and that fits me like a Speedo

All things are about Jesus, Homer, except this

Lately I’ve been pretty engrossed by the Adventures of Little Jesus. My wife thinks I’m a dork… and she’s right. I think it’s fun mockery of the all the Jesus junk. Can you imagine a kid actually playing with a Jesus Christ action figure? Sometimes I think we make God a little too stuffy.

I especially enjoy adding comments to the Little Jesus pics. My favorites are Knock Knock Jesus, Baby Doll Jesus, Jesus phone home, Shreddy Jesus, Micro Jesus and Vend-a-Jesus. [Note: As of November 2, 2003, Little Jesus seems to be rarely updated and not really available. Guess these things are short-lived]

Do you happen to need a Messiah?

Apparently the BGEA is “trimming” their workforce, not outright laying people off. That’s news to me. But if by “trimming” you mean reducing daily staff-prepared meals to a few vending machines and microwaves, then I guess that makes sense. It’s good to know you’re being “trimmed” and not layed off. Tell that to the BGEA’s cancelled daily radio show.

In other lunch-related news, Bad Az Chicken sandwiches are now available in the Billy Graham lunch room.

What the gumdrops is going on?

“And so I gave my thirteen cents to the man who peed his pants. He passes out and falls on me, I watch my change fall from his hands … What does it matter anyway, thirteen cents or all I own? How can I ever save the world on cup-o-soup and student loans? I want to try and save the world, but it never goes that way. God I don’t know what to do,” (“Where the Zero Meets the Fifteen” from Upbeats and Beatdowns by Five Iron Frenzy).

That’s how I feel so many days. I wince at the dirty man, wondering how and if it’s my lot to show him something more. I avoid eye contact, walk slower, faster, whatever. There’s not much I can do anyway, too busy, too preoccupied.

But it goes beyond the huddled masses, it covers the consumer masses, those jetting about in their financed cars and name brand clothes. I feel it even in my own heart, the need, the longing, the yearning to have something more, to at least have the magazine hair and catch nods and stolen glances from other hipsters trying to be someone they’re not. I lose myself trying to save myself.

This lonely planet needs so much help–and who am I? Another drifter lost and weary, afraid of commitment and drowning in a sea of joblessness. Can I just get paid to read and write? A holy stipend, something dependable but with no real commitment? Just put me on the heavenly payroll, and I’ll do your will. Can it work like that? You pay the mortgage and I’ll write that book I’m always talking about. Deal?

It’s not easy and it’s not supposed to be.

We put the ‘Fun’ in ‘Fundamentalism’

I have to admit that in my teen years someone should have beat me up. I was a dork. I still am a dork, but back then I was a bigger dork. If I could back I’d beat myself up. I wore t-shirts that said “Worship the best or die like the rest.” A little confrontational. Just a bit. I don’t quite understand how I justified it, either.

Now I find that sort of Jesus-kitsch hysterical, in a sadly sadistic kind of way. While thinking about those t-shirts today, I stumbled across a lot more kitsch. And when you find, you’ve got to share the love:

The Gospel According to Big Red (the gum)
I so wish I was making this up: how to share you faith using a pack of Big Red chewing gum.

Spread the love of Jesus today!
The hugable, washable Jesus. I wish I was making this up, too.

Hippie Jesus is with you always
And I couldn’t possibly make this one up. My favorite is Jesus always being with the juggler.

Gadgets for God
If you like all this kitschy crap, check out this collection of religious garbage.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter
I unearthed more about this wacky movie today, including the film company’s website (complete with trailer) and an intriguing review, “Harmless Revelry or Excessive Blasphemy?”

It’s Link-O-Rama! (one more time)

Old School Educational Flicks
Check out this archive of advertising and educational movies from 1927-1987. Everything from duck and cover to swell parenting tips.

Atomic Comic
While we’re on the duck and cover theme, check out this old school comic about nuclear energy.

Oddball Comics
And while we’re on the comic theme, check out this site of oddball comics. Today’s theme? Catholic comics.

1980s TV Commercials
Gen X nostalgia at its best. My favorite was the C3-PO’s cereal — “A crunchy new force for breakfast!”

Die Trucker Hats, Die!
For those who think they’re cool: they’re not. The Gap plans to start carrying the hats next winter. “I never would have worn a trucker hat before because they were too cool,” said Zinner, who bought his two weeks ago while on tour in South Dakota. “But now that they are so uncool it’s cool to wear them.”

Teens Spend Billions on One-Night Bender
”It’s totally worth it!” said Lucas, who is still shopping and making final plans before the June 6 event. ”How can you put a price tag on a lifetime of memories?” The average 17-year-old spends $638 on prom, so apparently you can put a price tag on memories. I didn’t go to prom. Unfortunately, I have no $638 memories of bad sex in a cheap hotel.

Not in the face, not in the face!
The first rule of Dodgeball Club is you do not talk about Dodgeball Club.

Wal-Mart Menace
Last week I read about the perils of working at Wal-Mart in Nickel and Dimed (can you say, “give me a squiggle?”), and apparently Ehrenreich isn’t the only one with complaints. Three times a day there’s a new law suit against Wal-Mart. Ol Sam Walton must be rolling over in his shopping cart.

Flat Stanley Visits the White House
Apparently Flat Stanley is an elementary school project all across the country where students mail a small paper man to various places and somehow learn stuff. Frankly, I like “Flat Tyler” better (a project my cousin’s classroom did where they mailed a lifesize paper version of themself around the country. Much cooler. Though I can’t help but wonder if the Secret Service was wary of paper cuts.

If We Run Out of Batteries, This War is Screwed
OK, I didn’t finish reading this article, but it’s an incredibly interesting account of technology at the front lines of the second Gulf War. My favorite part was the use of Instant Messanging to check the likelihood of a chemical weapons attack.

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Youth Ministry (and part 2)
I’m more of a youth volunteer than an actual youth pastor, but this advice blew me away. Sometimes I feel like I try so hard to be cool, to connect with our kids, and I so much want to have all the results. I fall into so many classic traps. Sometimes I really need to lose the hip exterior and be my dorky self. My pathetic air guitar would open more doors than my detached aloofness.

Save me, Jebus!
And finally (yes, I like to save the best for last — see if anyone can make it through all those freakin’ links), tonight at the video store I saw the movie Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Oh my gosh. Has anyone seen this? I’ve got to find an excuse to rent this movie.