Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Terri Shiavo

Gary Varvel/Indianapolis Star

I had a sudden realization tonight at work. One that might not be all that popular with some of my friends and people who know me. It is simply this: may, just maybe, God's will is being done by letting Terri Shiavo die. Who are we to say what is and what is not God's will? Maybe God is using Terri as a tool, for what, I haven't the foggiest. It seems to me that we humans are good to go with God's Plan when it suits us. When things are going our way, but when something happens that we don't like then it becomes something else, it becomes almost "it can't be God's will that this happened to me." We don't know the Almighty's mind, some of us might like to think we do, but we don't. It is tragic that Terri has been thrown into the spotlight and used as a pawn. Remember that part of the Lord's prayer that goes something to the effect of "Your will be done on Earth as it is Heaven?" We may not understand it, but everything happens for a reason: the good and the bad.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Good Friday

I went to Good Friday Tennebrae service tonight (did I spell that right?) It was moving as usual, this is the first time in a long time that I was startled by the loud bang that symbolizes the closing of the tomb, I actually jumped a little bit-- I knew it was coming and yet I still jumped. Tonight, though I was thinking about something that happened to my first summer at camp. I was a freshly minted camp counselor and Jim, in his infinite wisdom, decided it would be a great to give me an eight year old cabin. I had kid in the cabin that just kind of scared me. He was, how shall I put it... intense. His name, I think, was Chase, I woke up one morning and saw him in the middle of the cabin doing an eight year old version of calastetics (again, I know I spelled that wrong) and he was staring at me as he punched the air. Itwas a bit frightening, but I pretty much cowed later on by throwing him around in the pool for awhile, but I'm not writing about Chase. I'm writing about another kid that was in the cabin with Chase. They cam from the same church. This kid was solid kid, kinda chubby, but for the life of me I can't remember his name. I could I suppose, I just have to back and look at my camp photo album, but I just don't feel like doing that right now. Anyway, I think it must of been the first day-- Monday, we were walking back from morning song time when this kid siddled up to me and in all honesty asked me the following (and he worded it like this): "If Jesus and I were the only two people on Earth who would kill him?" I was taken aback. To this day I don't know if it was a test or a for real question, if you know what I mean. I took it as a real question, though, and thought about it for a second. I had to figure out a way to break it to an eight year old kid that it would be him, that he would be the one to kill Jesus, like if it was me and Jesus as the last two people on earth that I would be the one that would kill Him. So, I believe I just told him outright. And, if I remember right, he just kind of said "Oh, okay" ran off to hang with Chase.

You know what they say about "from the mouths of babes," I think the question and my answer affected me more then it did him and maybe it was supposed to, maybe it was a good old fashioned spirtual honkytonk.

Tonight as I sat in church and listened to the choir sing softly to us I looked at the banner on the wall. It was a black banner with red writing that said "Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing." I just found myself reading it thusly: "Father forgive Karl for he knows not what he is doing." It is always something different that gets me every year. Something I haven't seen or heard before or maybe I just wasn't ready for it until now. I held the hammer, I still hold the hammer, that stapled Jesus to his tree. I'm responsible for the gash in his side and the holes in his hands and feet. I mocked him. I spit at him. I thrashed him with a cat-o-nine tails tipped in bone and glass. Me. I did that. And yet he asked God to forgive me for something I did-- because I didn't know what I was doing.

Wow, that's some heady stuff for me to process.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Thoughts About/As a Result of the Shiavo Case

I have been watching and listening to the coverage (ad nauseum) of the Terry Schiavo case in Florida. I'm sure you know the one: the woman that has been in a vegetative state for ten or 15 years, she is in the middle of a big legal battle. Her husband wants to let her die (by pulling her feeding and water tube), her parents want to keep her alive. I'm of two minds on this one. On one hand I say let her go. Just let her die. On the other hand I'm afraid that if this is done a precedent will be set and I'd rather not think about what might happen after that. Hearing all this racket about Shiavo has shown me the importance of getting Power of Attorney and making sure you have a Living Will that lets doctors and all those around know excatly what you want to have done to you if you become incapacitated. My parents have both of these documents. I know excatly what they want done. My parents each of power of attorney over each other and I have power attorney if something should happen to them. They have written out, signed, documented, lawyer stamped living will. Basically, if they are incapacitated and if keeping them alive with machines is the only way they will live then the machines will be turned off. My parents have their funeral arrangements made, they will be cremated and buried in New York. This might seem ghastly to some and maybe a little morbid, but in fact it makes me feel better about the whole thing. I know what they want and it will be taken care of. I'm an only child, I don't have any brothers or sisters so I will have to take care of all this stuff on my own. I do have other family (aunts and uncles and cousins) but they'll only be able to so much. I don't believe in euthanasia, I don't believe in (and obsolutely can't stomach) suicide. I believe that when the Lord wants me he'll come get me. In His own good time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

This Was Sparked by Something Else I Read on Another Blog

It was heady times at con-you wasn't it? I remember we tended to bemoan the fact that it wasn't like it was "back in the day," no one did any pranks or anything like that. But somehow we seemed to have a hell of good time. I never going to forget being awakened at "earlish" on a saturday morning by the sound of golf ball careening of my door as the Behnken mini-golf tournament got underway. Walkin down to Big T and Big Sean's room and chillin while listening to Big T philosphosize about whatever was on his mind. In a strange way what Big T said actually made some strange kind of sense. He would ramble and we would just kind of follow along, nodding our heads, and drink our beer. And Sean would, like a good Aristotle to T's Socrates, add his two cents worth everynow and again. I remember it iced once so bad that Austin shut down and I looked out the window and noticed that everything was closed, except for the porn shop across the street. That parking lot was full all the time regardless of the weather. It all kind of changed when some of us went over to the Inn, but we were Behnken boys and we took our brand of Con-you alligiance and goofiness with us. My little possse and I painted the rock. That was good fun. The night before field day. It looked like a big purple dinosaur egg with yellow bird poop splotches on it. Last time I was at con-you they had repainted it with a pretty color purple. That was too bad. I remember taking long walks through Austin, getting lost a few times, but finding my way back. I spent a lot of time down on the "drag." I went there because no one knew me and sometimes Con-you just got too small and cramped. I needed to get away, so I did. I spent countless hours in Tower Records, and whata thrill beyond all imagination when the Barnes and Noble opened across from UT. Going to chapel and looking up at the Jesus Teaching statue and thinking how much fun it would be to put Marde Gras beads in his hands. I almost did it once, but I figured that would be more trouble then it was worth. Besides there was some feeling about sacralige that I couldn't shake. Dana practially taking me by the ear and almost forcing me to interview with Jim for a camp job in '96. I'm still not sure why he made me do that, but I'll be grateful forever. Choir tour through Colorado and New Mexico, good fun, that. I saw parts of the country I'd never seen before and I realized then that I could stay in and travel in America for the rest of my life and still not see it all. I remember the biggest disappointment was Dodge City. What a crock of let down. Man I was ticked. Nothing there, period. Going to the Dobey Theatre and gettin in for free-- I had a hookup. I saw some strange ass movies there, but it was a great way to chill out. Goin with Bart to the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue and drinking a beer in his honor. Stumbling back from sixth street more times then I probably should have. Having Antone as a roommate... something I shan't forget I think for a very long time. I've got to quit this... I'm getting a headache... too much starin at the computer screen.

Giving Calhoon the Ball

(this one is for Microprone aka Dana he'll know why)

Its been a while since I even thought about Calhoon. Well, okay, that's a bit of a half-truth. I think about Calhoon daily. And I can hear the cheer in my head almost as often. Its a good way to keep myself in check. Calhoon was a pretty popular guy one summer at camp. Paige asked me tonight about PC. So I told her about that and then I told her that someday I'd have to tell her about Calhoon. Well, there's no time like the present is there... even if it is 0100 on tuesday morning.

Calhoon started out as a comedic skit I heard on a tape someone sent me one time. I remember listening to it and thinking: wow, there's something here that I can use. At the time I didn't have a clue as to what it was or how I could use it, but that seed was planted and it took root.

Here's the story of Calhoon:

Have you ever been to a highschool football game? Ever been to a highschool football game where your team won? Ever been to a highschool football game where you team lost? Or been to a highschool football game where your team lost real bad, I mean real bad? Have you ever been to a highschool football game where your team lost so bad that you hurt Monday morning and you didn't ever get off your but and move from the bleachers? I went to a highschoo where that was a regular occurance.

One Friday night my highschool was getting creamed. I mean we were getting the beeswax beatin out of us and it wasn't gettin any prettier. Our quarterback was getting slammed into the ground and our defensive line would of been better at knitting then defending the goal line. In short it was a massacre.

Now there was this guy on the football team named Calhoon. He was little and he never played. He didn't even get into practice very often. He was skinny and probably would fit better behind a chessboard then in a set of football pads. He didn't weigh any more then buck oh five soaking wet and that was if he was wearing heavy shoes and a sweatshirt. He was, lets be honest, not football material.

He sat at the end of the bench and tried to look inconspicuous. I'm not even sure why he was on the team, I guess everyone needs a mascot, right?

It started somewhere near the back of the hometeam (my highschool's) bleachers. It was a low rumble at first: "give Calhoon the ball!" The play out on the field kept going.

"Give Calhoon the ball!" The chant started to get louder...

"Give Calhoon the ball!!"

The stands start to get louder. "Give Calhoon the ball!" By now the whole homeside is chanting in unison: "Give Calhoon the ball!" Its get louder "GIVE CALHOON THA BALL!"

The cheerleaders start to pick it up. "GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!"

Suddenly, surprise of surprise, the OPPOSING team's bleachers start to join in the chant. "GIVE CALHOON THE BALL!" Coach is starting to look around. He's not sure what's happening...

GIVECALHOONTHABALL! It gets louder. There is a large main road that goes by my old highschool: rte 219. People started pullin off the road, gettin out of their cars and yellin with the crowd: GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!GIVECALHOONTHABALL!"


The opposing team's coach starts. The stands are in an uproar. Traffic is stopped.

Suddenly, the my highschool team starts to chant it, too. "GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!GIVECALHOONTHABALL!"


Calhoon tries to make himself smaller. He has fear in his eyes.

Finally, after the shelackin on the field only got worse Coach Vent sent in Calhoon. A cheer rises from the crowd.

The team huddles... and huddles again. The quarterback makes motions at Calhoon. Calhoon motions back...

Delay of game! Five yard penalty.

The crowd groans. The chant starts up again. GIVECALHOONDABALL! Fans are throwing things and stomping their feet. GIVECALHOONTHEBALL!

The football team huddles again. The whistle blows again. Another delay of game. Another five yards. By this time the stands are near mutinous and in very great danger of rioting

Finally, the quarterback steps out of the huddle and goes to the middle of the field to the fifty yard line. He puts his hands up. The crowd quiets down. You can hear a pin drop. He takes of his helmet and does a complete slow circle in the middle of the fifty. Complete silence. THe quarterback takes off his helmet and puts it on the ground. He cups his hands up to his mouth and yells...


The crowd is stunned... Calhoon don't want the ball? He don't WANT the BALL?


Imagine if you will what would of happened if Christ hadn't wanted the ball. If he had said "You know, I don't think I want to do this." What then? What would of happened?

But see, we don't have to worry about that. He took the ball and he ran it in for a touchdown. He won the game. We still play the game of life, but we're already on the winning side. Oh, sure, sometimes we may get bumped and dumped, but we get up and play on.

You see we got the best coach there is. We got the best quarterback there is. And we have the best blocker there is. And the playbook? Not a bad play in there.

You see, if you don't have Jesus on your team you don't just lose, you're already lost. You hold onto the ball. You run with it. You'll get to the redzone everytime you play. You. Can't. Lose. Because, you've already won.

There is a chant that fans of New Orleans' Saints shout when the Saints win. It goes like this: Who dat!? Who dat?! Who dat say they goan beat God's Saints? Who dat?! Who dat?! Who dat say they goan beat God's Saints?"

No one. No one is going to beat us. They can't. We're on the winning team.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

coffee thoughts

i bought a dvd today in bestbuy: Coffee and Cigarettes. its one of those kind of movies that appeals to me on a certain level, but i'm not sure which level that is. when i first saw it in the theatres i didn't much care for it, but it has stayed with me; this movie hasn't got much, if any, plot. it has 11 scenes of various people in various settings feeling rather uncomfortable with each other drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. my favorite scene, i believe, is a bizarre banter between iggy pop and tom waits. the stronger of the two actors is tom. i just realized tonight that tom waits was in The Fisher King. he plays the bum who panhandles in grandcentral station and has the great line that goes something to the effect of: "you know society's a mess when people start pissin on bookstores." ain't that truth. i'm sitting here, now jonesin for a cup of coffee. and i don't mean a froo-froo starbuck's cup of coffee. i'm talking more along the lines of a good old fashioned cup of joe. you know the kind that has been sitting around just a tad too long on the coffee warmer in a truck stop or, heaven of heavens, an ihop. and it has that kick, not so much a caffine kick, but that "kick" lets you know that its real coffee. the best coffee is from an ihop. perkins has pretty good coffee, too, but for some reason ihop's coffee is just the best there is. i'm not sure why that is, but it is. i'm sure its nothing more then maxwell house, or godforbid, instant. but there's something about ihop coffee that just sits well with my plebian nature. maybe its something to do with the fact that it comes out of the baby blue coffee pot. therein may lay the key. of course there is the whole good memories behind the cup of ihop coffee thing, that might be just as important. a friend of mine and i in college would go to an ihop in austin, right next to the city copshop, for what was ostensiably a "study session" but invariably turned into a "hangout and dig it all session." we would take our books and imagine we were reading and studying, but we in fact just watched the human movie: cops walkin in with their hand cannons strapped to their hips. shiftworkers rollin in before they went work or rollin after leaving. there was something, i don't know, almost dramatic about the whole affair. a play, which we all know hamlet said "was the thing." and it is, isn't it? the play. the human element. there it was played out on the stage of an ihop and no one really knew they were in the play. they just were. and we drank our coffee and if we had the scratch we ate our breakfast food on the big ihop platters commenting on the action. relishing in it. being a part of it. drinking our coffee. my friend and i each had a pot of coffee in front of us. we stayed until we finished them.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Dusting off the Playbook

I haven't been in the Word in a while and its starting to show. Well, not show outwardly, at least I don't think so, but more inwardly. That pilot light seems to be a bit dimmer then usual. Thoughts have moved to other directions than they should. I've been looking at the world differently then I was just a few short weeks ago when I was in the Word almost daily. I miss it. I miss the Word. As I write this I can look down and see my "playbook," as I like to call it (I name it thus after giving Calhoon the ball a few years back... inside reference to those that understand it). It is laying on the floor by my bed and is encased in a leather cover that has handles. Believe it or not that cover does pose a bit of a problem-- its difficult to read my playbook-- I know, I can hear you all "take the thing out of the cover!" I am going to.

One of the greatest blessings I ever received was being a lifeguard for two, or was it three summers, at camp. It was a blessing for many reasons, but I think the biggest was that hour in the middle of the day that was affectionately called F.O.B. It all depended on who you asked, but FOB could mean anything from Flat on Bunk, to Fart of Bunk (it all depended if the camper you asked was 10 or 16-- or if the counselor was Lee Knouse). Basically FOB was a time for (in theory) counselors and their campers to get out of the sun and get some shut eye-- a nap time, if you will. I discovered though, that I was often very groggy and not really effective for the rest of the day if I actually took that nap-- as strange as that might sound and I didn't particularly like going into the staff hut because most of the staff in there was trying to sleep and I didn't want to bother them. So that was when I discovered the benefits of the hour all-by-my-lonesome bible study.

During the day camp was a certifiable madhouse-- lots of activity, but that hour of silence was almost as unnerving as it was peaceful. I had two spots I liked to go. The first was an old, somewhat lopsided, round, concrete table under some trees. I had to sit on the "downhill" side of the table or else things got difficult. The other place was what was called the Trading Post. I would sit there with my Bible and quietly "read, mark, and inwardly digest" (as the good old Lutheran Liturgy said)and study.

I would read for a while, drink water from my water jug and sometimes close my eyes and just listen. Generally, there wasn't much noise except for the sound of pumping equipment and the refridgeration elements in the soda machines. It was during these silent times that I started to really get into the Word. To work with it. To get out of the kiddy pool and into the deep end. I added the Book of Concord eventually. That really became a great way of reading the Bible. I'd read the BOC and when I got to a quoted verse I'd go to the bible, find the verse and read it along with the verses around it. God really started to work. I noticed it and I think those around me started to notice, too.

Sadly, now, I don't have an FOB time that I can away to a small table and read. So, I make do how I can: a few minutes here, a half hour there. Somtimes, though, I still get distracted and forego the personal bible study. I find myself falling into the old trap of "well, I go to church on Sundays. That should be enough." I know its not. I go to church and I find myself wanting more, I'm not always sure what, though.

So, I'll reach down and I'll take that leather cover off. I'll get a pen and read for a while. It has been my experience that when I have the need to read I usually find something that I didn't know I needed. Does that make sense?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Indiana Weather*

there are days sometime just before the end of winter and the beginning of spring where we get a "teaser" day. a day that has a clear blue sky, bright sunshine, and a few select clouds floating around. smiles are not forced and people seem to generally be happy. these teaser days let us humans know that things are going to get better. soon the snow will stop flying and the sun will start shining a bit brighter, but, i have learned something this week: in indiana spring isn't offically recognized until after high school basketball sectional tournaments have been finished. i had more then a few people today remark about how nice the weather was today, but that excitement and happiness about the weather was tempered by the phrase "but its not going to last..." when i asked why the answer pretty much uniform: "high school tournaments are done yet." i know this is true. i just didn't connect it to anything. this is the third winter i've lived in indiana. and the people i talked to are right. the weather is going to take a nasty turn to winter at least once and it will probably be icey. it happened last year. i remember it. its strange how people mark time. when i lived in maryland it was marked by the distinct seasons. winter: the ground rested. spring: things woke up and planting took place. summer: making hay. fall: harvest. when i lived it texas it was just varying degrees of hot, but it was also either raining and hot, or raining and cold, or just plain hot. those were the seasons. if people started wearing parkas it must of been the first part of september. (i'm being sarcastic... kind of). in indiana its either football season or basketball season. its not officially spring until basketball season is over. for some reason i kind of like that. it just seems cool to me. so, high school sectionals will continue. and the weather will fluctuate...

i saw a robin the other day. he was a fat guy. he was standing in the lawn, his orange chest sticking out like a drill sargent. i felt sorry for the guy because i know that he was here too early. i know the saying about the early bird, but still...

did i mention that it might snow tomorrow? its going to rain this weekend.

*originally published in my Opendiary.com online diary.