Watching Sesame Street Again

This week Abby showed Lexi some old school Sesame Street clips on YouTube. Lexi loved them—especially the YipYipYipYipYip monsters. So I decided we’d try watching some Sesame Street when it was on PBS. I’m usually not big on watching TV with Lexi, but an hour of very educational TV has been better than I thought it’d be.

Though Sesame Street has changed a lot from when I was a kid (duh). Yesterday’s show was brought to you by the letter M and the number 20. And McDonalds, Beaches Resort, (AstraZeneca), New Balance and Earth’s Best. Each sponsor (except for M and 20) had a 15 or 20 second commercial plug at the beginning and end of the show. I remember underwriters getting a logo and a mention, and that was it.

And while it has changed (and Elmo’s World is enough to drive anyone crazy), Sesame Street does still have classic moments:

Elmo: “What’s it like being a yo-yo?” Yo-yo: “Well, it has its ups and downs.” Yuck, yuck, yuck. Then as the yo-yo left: “I’ve got to go walk the dog.”

Then there was the sketch about Jack be nimble who couldn’t jump over the candlestick because he didn’t eat breakfast. So he calls out: “Mom be nimble, mom be quick, please give me breakfast on the quick!” I love breakfast time.

The Count watching his favorite TV show: 24. Each show is only 24 seconds long and consists of counting to 24. And yes, it did feature a puppet Jack Bauer.

It also kind of weirds me out that Muppet characters sound like Sesame Street characters. Kermit sounds just like Ernie, Miss Piggy sounds like Grover and Fozzie sounds like Bert. And yes, Jim Henson (and now Steve Whitmire) voices both Kermit and Ernie, and Frank Oz voices Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie and Bert. It’s strange that the kids never catch on—though you never see those characters together.

Teaching Kids About God

Last week at church we sat around with some other parents and talked about spiritual formation in our children. Basically how we’re teaching them about God. I felt kind of dumb because I didn’t think we were doing much. But then the next day in the bath tub Lexi wanted to pray for her friends and we had quite the extended prayer session that turned into a round of “Praise Ye the Lord (Alleluia).”

First Lexi kept asking me to pray for people. We prayed for all kinds of people. And we started repeating people (they got a double blessing I guess). Then I asked Lexi if she wanted to pray. She put her head down and folded her hands (which she must be learning in Sunday School) and prayed:

“Pray adopted baby amen.”

“Pray momma amen.”

“Dear God amen.”

Then we were singing “Praise Ye the Lord (Alleluia)” and I tried to tell Lexi what ‘alleluia’ means. First I said it was worship (I think it literally means ‘highest praise’ or ‘let us worship God’), but then I realized that probably means nothing to her. So I told her worship is kind of like giving God a hug. I’m no theologian, but the definition kind of works for me.

Then Lexi wanted to pray that God would give the adopted baby a hug. We’re starting to mix metaphors now, but I think that’s a good definition of prayer, too.

Watching Justin McRoberts

I’m a longtime fan of quasi-indie artist Justin McRoberts and I heard last week that he has a new album coming out, Deconstruction. As part of the album releasing festivities, Justin made videos of the entire album and released them all on YouTube. Rock on.

Justin’s last few albums have been more in the slower, acoustic vein, and this is more of the same. Though it’s also more political than his previous stuff. I think the best way to connect with that kind of music is in person, and Justin is definitely best in person (from Sonshine, to opening for ska bands to solo coffee shops). But the videos are a close second and a nice way to experience the new album.

Here’s “Bullhorn Theory” from the new album:

Given in to Sickness

I’ve been battling a sore throat and cough most of the week and by Friday I’d finally given in. Well, I had an important meeting Friday morning that I struggled through, but by Friday afternoon I collapsed in bed while Lexi napped. I waved my white flag.

All higher brain functions have ceased. The uniform of pajamas is official. I’m starting to get better (I am blogging, right?), slowly, finally. But I’m still skipping church and look forward to another day in bed.

I hate being sick. I had several blog entries half-written in my head–now gone. I had a pile of work to catch up on this weekend–not happening. And of course Lexi has been an off-the-wall spazz. She’s completely full of energy and I can barely get off the couch. On the plus side, I have managed to plow through a few books. That counts for something, right?

Update: Apparently I have strep throat. I went to the doctor Friday afternoon to get tested (at my wife’s insistence), and while the initial results came back negative, they just called to tell me the 24 hour test came back positive. This means I get real drugs!

Believe What You Want to Believe

No matter what you want to believe you can find someone who backs you up. Pick a topic–any topic. Whether you think global warming is a crisis or a hoax, whether you think second hand smoke is harmful or just fine, whether you think ‘sucks’ is a bad word or not, whether you think God hates homosexuals or not–whatever position you want to take you can find someone who holds that position, usually with more than flimsy rhetoric (OK, that last one is a bad example).

And it breaks my heart.

I’ve talked about this before concerning politics during the 2004 election and about the Jena 6 trial. Everyone is so completely biased that you can hardly trust them as sources. And if you trust them, someone else will discredit them. Whatever new detail comes out each side has to put their own spin on it so they come out ahead. It’s like every issue has turned into the aftermath of a presidential debate where both sides claim victory no matter what happened.

Even the supposedly non-biased news media have their slants and whether or not you want to trust a source like Fox News or the New York Times depends on your slant. It’s completely polarizing to the point that we just end up segregating into camps of like-minded people with our like-minded news and entertainment outlets.

And it’s OK if you disagree with me. I’m biased, so you can just write me off and ignore me.

Adoption and Child Sponsorship

Photo by Compassion InternationalOne of the Compassion International Uganda bloggers named Carlos shared this story. Carlos has an adopted son from Korea and as he was showing a picture of his son, Losiah, to a group of children, a boy named Butewas looked confused.

Carlos: “Do you know what it means to adopt?”

Butewas’ eyes lit up.

Butewas: “Yes”

Carlos: “I adopted Losiah because his mother could not care for him.”

long pause…

Butewas: “Do you think you can adopt me?”

This kind of interaction kills me. Carlos didn’t share how he responded. And I don’t know how you do respond.

Questioning Child Sponsorship

I love that Compassion International is doing this blogger’s trip to Uganda. I applaud them. But it also raises a lot of important questions for me. As I read through the entries and the comments, almost everyone responds with tears and a broken heart and an eager need to sponsor a child. That’s great. But I hope it’s not all. I hope there’s more to it than emotionalism.

I hope we still ask the tough questions. I’ve been doing that—though I sound like a heartless bastard—and Anne Jackson has been gracious enough to respond.

My first question was if the disparity between sponsored children and unsponsored children causes problems. Anne explained that the benefits a sponsored child receives extend to their entire family. She also said that culturally it’s understood differently:

“the way the sponsorship impacts the child, the child’s family, and the community is something to celebrate. when all you have is god and your fellow man, it comes a lot easier when someone you love is blessed.”

Update: Shaun Groves also weighed in on my comments, offering further insight. The most encouraging bit he offered is the fact that local Compassion projects are run by local people: “Let’s, first of all, trust that they know what works best in their own communities.” That makes sense.

You Can Do So Much More Than the Least You Can Do

Photo by Compassion InternationalI mentioned about a week ago that a group of bloggers were going to Uganda to experience Compassion International‘s child sponsorship program. They’ve been on the ground this week sharing their stories.

It’s pretty eye-opening.

we spent some time at a project yesterday with some of the brightest kids. this is a photo of henry and me. henry is in 7th grade. he is articulate, bright, and athletic. … he told me about his sponsor family in the states.

“mr. and mrs. james peterson,” he said. “do you know them?” he asked with a spark of familiarity and hope in his eyes. (from Anne Jackson)

And I’ve barely scratched the surface of what these 15 bloggers are talking about. But I also find it difficult.

Continue reading You Can Do So Much More Than the Least You Can Do

You’re Not Always Right; or Humility Rules!

I used to think obnoxious but true statements were a great way to tell people about my faith. I’d buy T-shirts plastered with them, bumper stickers proclaiming them, even music centered around them. I was very proud of my boldness.

But I didn’t realize how completely ineffective it was. I didn’t realize that instead of opening a door of conversation, I was kicking in the door and slapping the owner in the face–and expecting them to be grateful.

It’s kind of embarrassing when I think back on it. I’ve since realized (and am continually reminded) that is no way to change minds.

Continue reading You’re Not Always Right; or Humility Rules!

Let the Junk Go

A fellow friend and blogger described Lent (or summarized the Ash Wednesday sermon) better than I did:

“Our priest said [Lent is] a time to strip away all the unnecessary things we can. … [these spiritual exercises are about] taking away our excess so we can focus on deep things less distractedly.”

I’ve been trying to strip away all the extra junk. I’m not very good at simplicity, but I’m trying. Our upcoming rummage sale is a good opportunity (for myself as well as for you!). I’ve been going through the house and trying to decide if I really need each and every item. Since we moved last spring you’d think we would have done this already–and we did. We took multiple carloads of stuff to Goodwill (put our house on the market in January, so a rummage sale wasn’t practical). But it’s amazing how much junk is still sitting around (junk we moved with!) that we don’t need.

Continue reading Let the Junk Go