Friday, June 30, 2006

O, to be innocent!

Sometimes its hard to be a woman, Giving all your love to just one man.

As you've no-doubt heard, Richard "Tricky Dick-ito" Scrushy was convicted on all 6 counts of bribery yesterday. Of course, he's planning to appeal. Old Dicky isn't very interesting to me. He's a dime-a-dozen corporate criminal. I mean, really, who hasn't been convicted of doing something similar over the past few years? Enron, anyone? I know, I know, Dicky was acquitted of those crimes. Yeah. He's totally innocent, I'm sure.

You'll have bad times, And he'll have good times,Doing things that you don't understand.

Actually, I think the only person on the planet who doesn't think Dicky is guilty is his wife, Leslie. If you watch their early-morning television show Viewpoint, you can tell that Leslie really does "Stand By Her Man." She looks at him with the doe-eyed admiration of the high school cheerleader to the quarterback (or, to the captain of the debate team in this case). I can imagine their dinner-time conversation: "Now, Leslie, do you really think I am capable of such crimes? Don't I go with you to church every Sunday? Am I not Bishop Lowe's favorite church member?"

But if you love him you'll forgive him, Even though he's hard to understand

And Leslie, who trusts this man and doesn't assume that Pastor Lowe's affections come with a price, retreats to the hot tub in acquiescecence. There she sits for hours, scratching her head trying to put two and two together to make five. "I just don't understand," she admits to herself. And I believe her.

I used to look at Leslie and wonder how she could lie so flawlessly and still appear on television talking about Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit with such innocent sincerity. Finally, it occurred to me: Leslie really does believe him. She believes him. He's lied to her, too and she's just one more of his victims. Honestly, (dare I say it?) I wonder if Leslie isn't all that bright.

And if you love him,Oh be proud of him,'Cause after all he's just a man

Contrast Leslie to Linda Lay who has drawn suspicion of insider trading. Linda, the Barbie of the Ken Lay Foundation, at least had a clue. She even turned on the water-works for a national television audience when she claimed that she and Ken were trying hard to save the Mattel Townhouse from forclosure. Boo hoo! As slimy as she is, I actually can muster a modicum of respect for Linda Lay, albeit the kind of respect I have for Hillary Clinton, that is, the kind of respect most akin to the kind I'd have for two-headed goldfish.

But Leslie? It makes me sad to see her holding Richard's hand like an escape handle on a boat bound for the bottom of the ocean and smiling rapturously as she strides up the courthouse steps. I saw her do it when she was pregnant. I saw her do it days after having given birth. She's exhibited the hard-core commitment of a woman who's in it for love.

I ache for the way she's being used and misused. Of course, there's a payoff. She, too, enjoys the gain, however ill-gotten, of the fallen HeathSouth empire. The thing that unsettles me, is the gnawing suspicion that she'd love him anyway. Her vounerability, her innocence, her total lack of guile, makes me want somehow to protect her and keep her from the imminent day when she looks around and says to herself "That son-of-a-bitch." Innocence lost is scary for everyone and Hell hath no fury like Leslie with the light on.

That is, unless the person in the dark is me.

Stand by your man,And tell the world you love him,Keep giving all the love you can,Stand by your man,Stand by your man

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Edward Hopper

Chop Suey
She is telling her friend a secret or sharing a problem that she can't solve alone. Maybe she's pregnant by her priest.
Cape Cod Evening
She doesn't know how to tell him that she wants a divorce.

New York Movie Theater
She can't wait for her shift to be over so that she can meet her Puerto Rican boyfriend at a coffee shop in East Harlem.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Life, Love, Legacy and a wee bit o' schoolin'

One of the major themes of the sexual integrity program I've been studying is "Life, Love & Legacy." The basic idea is to embrace life (by caring for your body, soul and spirit), embrace love (by bulding a strong marriage and a strong family and by not polluting those things with artificial birth control methods), and to build a legacy for the family you leave behind.

Many of these ideas are based on the teachings of John Paul II loosely referred to as "The Theology of the Body." Someday, I hope to spend some time really delving into those teachings.

I'm trying to care for my body and I'm making some progress. I'm trying to embrace love and I'm making some progress. What I'm most excited about, though, is the opportunity I have to build a legacy by working to establish a classical school in Birmingham.

I spent the last week in Cincinnati at the Association of Classical and Christian Schools conference and I had the opportunity to learn more about classical education. It was exciting. It was terrifying.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Find Your Bliss

Freaky Friday

This Friday, the planets aligned to bring me three of the strangest experiences I've ever had.

The first one happened in the parking lot of the Publix at the Vestavia City Center. I pulled into a parking space next to a woman about my age who was loading her groceries into the driver's-side door instead of the trunk. She kind of had to scoot out of the way for me to pull into the space. When I got out of the car, I said "I'm sorry, I didn't meant to make that difficult for you!" She said "IT'S ALL RIGHT." Her reply was a little curt, but I didn't really give it any more thought. When I got back to the car, there was a note on the windsheild that said "I'm sorry I was short with you. (Bad day...) It was very nice of you to apologize. Thank you." I thought that odd. I suspect that she goes to my church and recognized me. If you're reading this, Mystery Girl, it's all good.

The second thing happened when Amy & I were swimming. A strange, old, very tan man came to the pool and said "This water feels so good I'd like to go skinny dipping. Do you mind?"

The third thing happened when a girl at the symphony asked me to pour water on her. "No seriously," she said about five times. I declined.

This, by the way, is a photograph of our fair city, or more specifically, a sunset.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Swimming Pool Owners, Beware

Corduroy Dog goes in the drink.

I wish I was a fish a swimmin in the water!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From One Lewis to Another Lewis Who Hopes to Have Another Lewis Someday

This is my dad. This photograph came from Briarwood's website. My dad works at Briarwood. He's smiling, but I bet he's thinking "Please get this over with as soon as possible."

Some people (both men and women) are born with Warrior Spirits. My dad has a Warrior Spirit. I think it probably came in handy when he was a United States Marine, but I think God probably gave it to him for such a time as this. Lately, I've been seeing how far we have drifted as a church, as a culture, as a nation and a planet from God's design for us. There's so much sin in our world that Evil has been able to set up camp everywhere. This isn't a new phenomenon, but it's the first time that I've really contemplated it. In a world of Evil, we need some Warrior Spirits. A Warrior Spirit doesn't necesarily go around whacking people's heads off anymore. These days, I think that a Warrior Spirit is a leader who can rally us to grasp truth and find it worthy of our decisive action. That's the kind of Warrior Spirit my dad is. When I talk to him, I find myself seeing black and white in a world of gray. He makes me see the truth I knew was there all along.

I need that. I love my dad. I need a good dose of the truth right now because so much around me is hollow and false and wrong. I'd like to fight against that, even in my own world, but I can't even find my sword right now. I'm not sure how to go about it. My dad didn't know either, but he told me that Someone does and I know that Someone will tell me soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I miss Reagan

It might be cheesy, but I really miss Ronald Reagan. We could use some confident leadership right about now.

Holding Fast for the End of the World

Hold Fast
This is the badge of the Clan Lewis of MacLeod. It reminds me to Hold Fast to what I know is true about God, myself, and my place in the world. It reminds me to Hold Fast to what I value and what I believe in. It admonishes me that no matter how marred our world is because of sin, God's truth is still the only way up and out of a dark place. Hold Fast.

I often have visions of the end of the world. Prophetic, they probably aren't, but they confirm what I know is true about God and his love for the diversity he has created in men and women all over the world. I see all the members of the Clan Lewis who love him assembled in yellow tartans singing to Mo Ghile Mear (our Hero) who is Jesus finally come to redeem the world from sin. When the world is over, there will be a sea of yellow tartan stretching from Alabama to the top of Jacob's ladder representing all the MacLeods who have gone before me. I think there are members of the Clan waiting for me in Heaven and when I arrive, they will welcome me warmly. "Well done my Good and Faithful Servant." I know that it's His faithfulness that bought my soul and paid the price for my sin.

Until then, I Hold Fast with the strength of Jesus who is the Christ.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jesus, Mary & Joseph! Race, Babies, Crisis & Me

In their quest to be anti-Republican and anti-South, some folks I know have decided that abortion may not be so wrong after all. They are cowards. That's all. That's a subject that's really been rolling around in my head lately. There's a huge "ANTI!" philosophy emerging at my church these days. Folks hate their past so much that they'll become pro-ANYTHING in order to be Anti-THAT. I remember when we used to just be simple. It used to just be about the Gospel to me. Now, I've got to clean out all the ANTI! cobwebs before I can bring my head to church. I wish I could just go to church without thinking about all the other duck-droppings that go along with it. (I'm trying not to use bad words and it makes me say funny things sometimes.)

I have a new friend who is black. She says "black" she does not say "African-American." I talked to her about the possibility of adopting a black or bi-racial baby yesterday. I told her that I was afraid that a black child raised by a white family would have a hard time understanding all the good things about the black culture. I told her that the white family would have to seek out black role models for their black child. I said that it might be necessary for that family to join a black church. She said that there are many black babies in the world that need good homes and that it didn't matter who adopted them as long as they would love them. Last night, I stayed awake worrying that I said something offensive. I hope I didn't, but I'm not sure. I'm terrified of being a racist. I'm afraid of even talking about race. I think most white Southerners feel that way, too.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Confusion and the Devil

It's been said, albeit by people who think they know me a lot better than they do, that I'm afraid of confrontation. I've recently realized that it isn't confrontation I shy away from, it's the damage I do to another person during that confrontation. Confrontation is promoting your version of the truth above another's version of the truth. Of course, there is one Truth and you shouldn't bother confronting if you aren't certain yours is it.

Incidentally and in the form of an aside, the culture of our little church is saturated with incorrect ideas about confrontation and the "biblical" way in which it is to be carried out. If you are offended, confront!. There doesn't seem to be an accepted way of resolving hurt feelings and conflict other than to confront! with impunity and with haste. This reminds me of the creatures in Swift's Gulliver's Travels who carry inflated bladders tied to the ends of twigs. They bop each other on the head every time one of them does something offensive. We've got Confrontation Bladders at Red Mountain Church. "You misspoke!" BOP! "You hurt my feelings!" BOP! The glaring and magnificent error in this way of thinking is that if we decide that Confrontation! is our only way of oiling our relational waters, we miss out on the gifts of time and space and patience, long-suffering and grace.

To confront someone properly, you have to say something like "I'm going to speak frankly, and frankly, that's going to be painful for you." To confront is necessarily to inflict pain. I know what my ideas are. I'm not afraid to express them. But I certainly should wield them carefully when I realize what mighty weapons they really are. If I or someone else doesn't want to talk, you probably shouldn't try to force us. It's a goad that can only work you woe. Be glad I keep my opinions to myself. They can be painful opinions!

Now, back to the issue at hand.

Lately, I've been able to feel the Devil prowling around looking for someone to devour. To me, Evil feels like personified entropy. You know Evil is there when you feel your very thoughts starting to convolute and break apart. The simple truth of what was said during a discussion becomes blurry and nebulous. You start to feel like Charlie and Grandpa Joe when they drank Fizzy Lifting Drinks and couldn't control their careen toward the ceiling fan. Have you felt this way? If you have, you've probably been in close proximity to Evil.

In fact, this was the context of Original Sin. "Did God really say not to eat this fruit?" This was the Serpent's first foray into the realm of subtle seduction. It's interesting that he didn't try and force the fruit upon Eve or brazenly coerce her. He made her question her own mind and her own sense of what was true.

Obviously, it was a tactic that didn't fail him. In fact, it worked so well that he uses it today.

"Are you sure God didn't tell you not to have sex before you marry this great boyfriend He gave you? Show me the exegesis of that."

"Are you sure the Bible is the inspired Word? How is that even possible?"

"Are you sure you're being arrogant? Surely you're just confident."

At this moment, I'm seeing some of the "greatest minds of our time" fall victim to the subtle and sinister advances of Evil as it moves forward to conquer the field of Truth. It's a frightening thing. I see the lies wrap around even the biblical scholars like oily rags and I see them choke. I see them start to believe the lie and I see them exchange it for the truth.

It's hard to hold on to truth. It's critical to hold on to truth. It is the truth that sets us free from the snares of Evil. Truth about God, truth about ourselves, and truth about others. Even beyond that, it's truth about the small things in our lives. We must examine ourselves for signs of fallacious thoughts, words, or deeds. We must be able to stand confidently before our image in the mirror at night and say "This, I know for certain." We must mean it and we must never let it go.