Dealing with my bad memory

24 March 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine, and he said something that made me a bit envious.

We were talking about something that had happened to him several years before.  Or maybe it was something that had happened to me — the context isn’t that important.  But in passing, he mentioned that he rarely thought about things that happened in the past.  It wasn’t like he avoided thinking about them, it was just that they didn’t come to mind — his brain naturally focused on the future.

Later that night, I got to thinking about it, and found that I wished my brain worked like that, too.  Because all too often, I find myself thinking about the past — and wishing I weren’t.  When you get right down to it, I have a bad memory.

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Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Stockton ’88s!

21 March 2011

It’s spring, and in the spring a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of … fantasy baseball.

And boy, do I have a team this year.  Just on my active roster, I have seven .300 hitters and seven .500 sluggers.  My batters have hit over 2300 homers in the last twelve seasons.  In that same span, my top five starting pitchers have racked up 563 wins and more than 5300 strikeouts.  Five of my players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and two more are likely to go in once they’re eligible (plus another is in the Basketball Hall of Fame).

Wait, you say — Hall of Famers?  You mean you’re not using active players on your fantasy team?  What kind of wacko team is this?!?

Simple.  It’s a team in the greatest league in the world (personal opinion): Legends of Baseball.

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A two-point sermon from my MP3 player

14 March 2011

I got really convicted by my MP3 player a few days ago.

I don’t have a very big MP3 player.  It’s a little SanDisk Sansa 4GB job, about the size of one of those old Zippos your grandpa used to light his cigarettes, and I’ve got maybe 300 songs loaded on it.  Mostly contemporary Christian songs (what can I say, that’s my joint), and all of them upbeat, since I originally got the Sansa to use while working out.  (I haven’t had much energy for that lately, but hope springs eternal …)

More recently, I’ve used it while giving my son Sean his baths.  See, Sean may be still recovering from Leigh’s disease (and for that recovery, Lord, much thanks!), but in many ways he is a typical 7-year-old — such as hating to take a bath.  He can’t speak, exactly, but he moans the entire time, and in a small echoing space (like, say, our bathroom) that can really wear on the ol’  nerves.  So rather than turning into Jack Nicholson from The Shining, I pop in the earbuds, drop the body of it into my shirt/pants pocket, and sing along to a) drown out the moaning and b) hopefully keep the Seanster Monster entertained.

And it was Friday, during bath time (specifically, while drying Sean off) that God, via the Sansa, hit me with a heckuva two-point sermon.

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One line that says so much about the American church

5 March 2011

It can be difficult sometimes here at Outside-the-Camp — my name for the location of all of us (a growing number) who belong to Christ and want to serve Him and His people, but can find no home in the institutions of American Christianity.  (See Hebrews 13:13 for the source of the name.)

Not that I don’t see the pluses of my current location.  For one, it’s where I believe God has specifically called me for the time being, so that’s big.  There’s a great freedom involved — to seek Him wherever and whenever, to fellowship with Christians of all stripes, to do whatever one believes He wishes — without having to worry about the pressure of those who’d rather criticize others than follow themselves.  I no longer have to sit through two hours (or more) of religious observances every Sunday that bear little or no relation to Jesus’ call to love God and our neighbor — that in fact give little opportunity to interact with, let alone love, either one — or really anything else in the Bible.  When God told me to stop seeking a home in an institutional congregation, it allowed me to leave a LOT of burdens behind.

But sometimes I do miss being part of the crowd.  It’s only natural; I did spend twenty years after giving my life to Jesus (and a dozen or so before that) in that crowd, doing pretty much what everyone else was doing.  That’s bound to have an effect.  Not to mention all the messages heard over the years about how we needed to be committed to the “local church,” to be “in fellowship,” to bring my tithes “into the storehouse of God,” and so forth.  (I’m not using those quotes ironically; those were the actual phrases I heard from the congregational leaders over and over again.)  All that preys on my mind, and every so often I wonder if maybe I’ve missed the boat and should get “plugged in” (lovely term, that — makes me sound like a home appliance) to an institutional group again.

And then something comes along that reminds me why I’m far better off spiritually where God has me, on the outside.  In the most recent case, it was an e-mail that ran only one line …

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Oscar post-mortem: better late than James Franco

2 March 2011

(Blogger’s note: this post should’ve been up Monday.  Unfortunately, I came down with a 36-hour something-or-other and was barely functioning.  But, to quote the not-dead-yet guy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m getting better.”  My apologies for the tardiness regardless.  And look on the bright side: at least I’m not going to be writing about Charlie Sheen …)

Well, I made my goal.

Going into the Academy Awards this year, I had my predictions ready (see here, here and here if you missed them earlier) and had a goal in mind.  I correctly picked 16 out of 24 two years ago, 17 out of 24 last year, so this year I was hoping for 18.  And I got it — 18 out of 24, right on the money.  Which is pretty good, I think.  Steve Pond of the show-business website The Wrap, who’s historically very good at this sort of thing, apparently only got 17 this year.  If that’s the case, wow — beating Steve Pond in Oscar predictions is like edging out Kobe Bryant for the NBA scoring title.

I’ll get to the picks themselves in a little bit — but for starters, let’s go into the highlights of the ceremony.  Or maybe the lack thereof.

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