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In 1988, November 28 landed on a Monday; the Monday after Thanksgiving. I was a junior at Bethel College, I sang in the College Choir, and the Monday after Thanksgiving was always the first day of a week of rehearsals in preparation for the Festival of Christmas, Bethel’s yearly Christmas music concert featuring all of the musical organizations.
During those years–the years before the Great Hall came into being on campus, the Festival of Christmas was held at a large nearby church. All of the performers had to find their own way there.
I had a car. A big car. A 1978 Delta 88 Oldsmobile. I once measured it, and found that it was longer than my parents’ Suburban. But what it lacked in mileage it gained in its passenger-holding ability.
So on Monday, November 28th, 1988 I found myself driving four other choristers to the rehearsal. Tenor Section Leader Bryan was in the passenger seat, and there were three in the spacious back seat. This happened to be a year in which there had been significant snowfall the previous weekend, and the roads were somewhat slippery.
About a quarter mile from the church, driving through a suburban neighborhood, we came over a hill and, looking down, we saw kids on the side of the road, up on the snow bank. With sleds.
My friend and fellow-tenor Ace, suggested (jokingly – I assure you*) that I not concern myself with not hitting one or more of them.
I headed down the hill, going fairly slowly, and immediately noticed that it was almost sheer ice. And then we saw one of children head down the hill, towards the road, in an un-steerable and un-stoppable round red sled. You know, the crazy kind.
And then we saw him slide right into the road. And then we saw him stop in the middle of the road. Right where I was headed. On sheer ice. I put on the brakes, which did absolutely nothing as my big car slowly continued towards him.
This was a bad moment.
As slow as I was going, there was nothing I could do. I actually steered slightly (very slightly) towards him so it wouldn’t be a tire that went over him.
And then I ran him over. We saw him disappear below the bumper.
I slid another fifty feet (this was Bryan’s estimate later), and eventually the curb on the right side of the road stopped the vehicle.
This was a worse moment.
Two of the passengers in the back were ladies, a soprano and an alto. The soprano later told me that as I got out, they started praying. One of my passengers also later told me that they’d heard the child cry out at some point. I didn’t hear this.
I ran to the back of the car and looked. That’s where he’d be, right? Nope, I didn’t see him.
So I ran to the front. I bent over and looked. And there he was, just under the center of the front bumper. On his side, looking at me. Looking a little squished. Scared.
I asked (with, I imagine, a little tension in my voice), “Are you okay?”
He (with corresponding tension) answered, “Could you just back up a little?”
Now, I wouldn’t recommend what I did next, but I just took his hand, pulled him out and stood him up. We kind of checked him out. He was completely fine. The height of the underside of the car and the slipperiness of the icy road was exactly what it needed to be to keep him (mostly) in front of the car in a non-crushing manner until the vehicle stopped. I thank God. I really, really thank God.
In any case, it was at this point that Tenor Section Leader Bryan gave him a fifteen second lecture about why it wouldn’t be wise to continue sliding into the street at this location. The boy took his advice with great seriousness.
And we left the boy and his friends, we all got back into the car and drove the thirty second drive to the church.
I watched as other people told the story, and I personally told the story more than once in the coming days. Over the years, as I’ve told it, I’ve usually begun the story with, “And don’t worry, this story has a happy ending”. Which I now think was a bit of an exaggeration.
Five other notes:
- In my journal entry for that day, I reported that at supper, my friend Mark was under the table laughing as I told the story.
- In my journal entry for the next day, I reported that more than once, people asked me, “Did you run over any kids today?”
- My primary regret in this event is that I didn’t walk the boy home to make sure his parents learned what had happened.
- The Soprano who prayed in the back of the car has now been my wife for nineteen years. We weren’t even dating back then.
- This year, God-willing, I’ll go to the Festival of Christmas for the 29th year in a row.
- I didn’t report this in my journal, but my memory has it that at a later rehearal, Tenor Section Leader Bryan, giving announcements to the entire 100 person Festival Choir, said, “And in the years to come, if you have kids, don’t let them sled into the road, or sure as shootin’, Scott Jamison will run them over!”
* It’s my guess that Ace was in effect saying, “Scott, watch out for those kids there.”
I’d just like to point out that yesterday (probably in the afternoon) this blogs all time views count passed 150,000.
So, do you think Scott Adams (the drawer) is evil because he created such an evil character? Or because he chose every evil thing that character ever does?
Resolved: Nothing said between a husband and wife should be considered gossip.
True? False? Mostly True? Explain.
A few weeks back, Pastor Sam at our church posted the seven reason why one writer (Laurel Buckingham) loves attending a big church.
While I agree with all of them (as you might guess, since we attend a big church), my first thought was that small churches should get this same kind of list. So I wrote to him with the first ten reasons I could think of.
Last week, he posted them.
You can go read them, but here are a few of the reasons:
4. Small churches have more opportunity for musicians who aren’t at professional or near-professional levels.
This is true for other kinds of giftings.
5. People in small churches have more access to the head pastor.
6. It usually takes less than two years for pastoral transition.
… Or other decisions of this kind.
7. There is less potential for a person to be stagnant in a small church. There is more automatic accountability.
Let me just say as a disclaimer that we love attending Bethlehem and have no plans to leave.
Just to let you all know, I’ve posted a list of biblical reasons for praising God over at the Fighter Verse Song Blog.
Here are four times when “What part of X did you not understand?” doesn’t work as an argument:
When your listener wasn’t around when you said X.
When you haven’t actually ever said X.
When X is, in fact, quite confusing.
When X is, in fact, not true.
Did I miss any?
Like most people, I’m not one to be that interested in famous people. I don’t go out of my way to see them.
I’ve never, for example, been to a book signing.
Now, the fact that I enjoy Weird Al’s music is a part of the public record. I’ll go even further. I think it takes genius to do what he does.
His ability to mimic pop musicians is impressive, his original melodies are always very singable (and often make you want to sing along), he continues to be funny and his voice . . . well, even if you don’t like the tone, you have to admit he has a fairly big range and acrobatic ability.
So we went. I admit I wanted to see him in person and briefly talk with him.
I took my family. As we drove, I wondered how many people would be there. And as we walked in, I was handed a slip of paper which indicated that I was 251st in line. And all of the books were sold out. Ah.
So we waited until he walked in and he was introduced. And then he began the arduous task of signing all of these books. Cheerfully.
We went home. I took a nap. And then my wife and I left the kids at home and went back, two hours and twenty minutes later. He’d signed about 150. So we had some nice cool drinks in the Starbucks there (we usually go on a Sunday date anyway) and did a little shopping.
I spent some time in the comic section, which happened to be partially within earshot of Al as he signed books. He was generous and pleasant and patient as person after person, after couple, after family came through the line, told him how much they loved him, and got their picture with him.
At around the 3 1/2 hour mark, they finally called the set of numbers that I was in. And then it was my turn. The bookstore had nicely given us stickers to have him sign (if we promised to order the book, which I will!) I asked him to put down the initials of our kids. Which he did.
I commented about how I appreciated that his music was family friendly* and he thanked me. I asked him to look bored when they took the picture of us. Which he did. And he laughed afterwards.
And then it was done. As we walked away, he still had many people waiting in line. And he was still smiling.
A few more comments:
- He told me this was one of six days in a row that he was doing this. Can you imagine doing that for five hours, for six days ? It would be a different (not entirely unpleasant, not exactly thrilling) kind of existence.
- I’d just like to point out the fact that the handed out piece of paper’s note that seating was NOT guaranteed proved to be true, largely due to the fact that there was no seating, except for Mr. Yankovic.
- The people in line were an eclectic mix of lots of different kind of people. Like him, they were quite patient and pleasant.
In any case, I’m glad I went.
*Depending, I guess, on your definition of ‘family friendly’.
I have learned that my tastes in food render reality so that there is no connection or correspondence between “I don’t like this meal” and “This is not a quality meal”.
I thought some of you might like to know that over at the Gospel Coalition they published an article I wrote.
It’s six reasons I’m glad Pastor John was our family’s pastor. Go take a look!
Okay, so a design agency called Teehan+Lax’s Labs has developed a tool to create videos from Google Street View images. They’re called Hyperlapses and they’re very cool.
Here are a few that I created of some of my favorite locations:
There is beauty of God’s creation to be seen on the highways of America.
(Be warned – these take a little time – less than a minute – to load up.)
Which locations did I miss?
Update: Over at my Minnesota State Parks blog, I added a post with unique Minnesota Hyperlapse Videos.
I think it’s fair to say that most people have tasks, list items or chores that they put off. The question is – from the perspective of your creator, how important is that thing you are avoiding doing, and how unimportant is the thing you’re doing instead?
Please take a look around.
I’d also love it if you’d check out the project my family has been involved with – Fighter Verse Songs.
The newest CD has the entire Sermon On The Mount set to music.
As we often do on the way home from church on Wednesday nights, my kids and I were listening to MPR’s Fresh Air last week, and Terri Gross was interviewing the comedian Louie C.K. It was an interesting interview from several angles, but one section of it specifically caught my attention.
Terri asked him about the response from Christians to some of his more offensive material (and it is quite offensive), and he responded with a story -
I did this thing, this clip that went viral on “Conan” about everything is amazing and nobody’s happy, and it just was about appreciating what the world is like and not, you know, grousing about it. And it got really popular with Christian groups. And I heard that a lot of pastors would play it before their services and stuff. Anyway, so a lot of people that saw it would go to my website and be horrified by everything else that I say.
My comment to pastors:
So I guess here’s more evidence that you should do your research before you put up videos during sermons, or ‘like’ a clip on Facebook, or link to them on your blog. Because as a result of your actions, your congregation – those people who trust you – could be taken in directions you didn’t mean them to be.
So I got a lot of emails from people saying, why can’t you just keep it clean? Because I am now shut off from your act by the horrible things you said, and that’s such a shame. And I would not really respond to them because I don’t usually return emails, but in my head and to a few of them I said, well, you’re the one putting the limit. Not me. I mean I’m saying a bunch of stuff, and you’re saying that I should only say one facet of it. That’s a limit…. But at the same time, when these people would write to me, I kind of liked them. So whenever I’ve encountered a Christian saying, why don’t you stop talking like that so that I can hear you, you know? I think, well you’re the one putting the earmuffs on, but at the same time, I wish you could hear me because I like you…
My comment to Christians:
Did you see that? Despite the fact that he’s heard from lots of Christians complaining about his act he still ‘kind of liked them?’ He said it twice. Whoever wrote to him, good for you. You apparently didn’t alienate him. I’d like to know what you said.
This is yet another reminder that our message to non-Christians (even critical messages) can be made more palatable to the receiver if we say it in gracious ways.
He continued further:
… There’s been a lot of really simple vilification of right-wing people. And it’s really easy to just say, ah, you’re Christian, and you’re anti-this and that, and I hate you, and you should just go away. But it’s more interesting to find out, what is this kind of person like and how do they really think? Do I have any common ground with people like that who find me really, really offensive?
My comment to Louis:
It was encouraging to hear you say that you liked us. Or some of us. Thanks!
Yes, there is common ground. Listening to other parts of the interview, I heard that you love your daughters and want to protect them from offensiveness. We do, too, and we call that honorable. It sounds like you’re fairly strongly against suicide. We are, too, and we think positively about your comments calling it wrong, considering what they may prevent. You like honesty. We like it, too.
But there’s one other very important common ground that we share (at least I assume we do): You and Christians both care about what happens to you, Louis, and your soul when you die.
If we Christians are thinking biblically, this is much more important to us than any offensiveness in what you show on your website. Can we talk about it?
Over at my Dad Blog I just posted a list of six good truths we were reminded of as a family at Artist Point in Grand Marais. Please check it out.
I confess to having an affinity for the demotivational posters that came out several years back. But this one – does it strike a little fear in you?
What it depicts is not what I, or anyone, wants to happen.
But just like some supposedly motivational ideas can sometimes inadvertently cause a person to be depressed, could we turn this one around and make it inspirational? I think we can. Starting with a bad memory.
Do you have memories that make you cringe every time you think about them? And you think, why, why, why did I do that?
We can categorize those memories into three groups.
1. Those that should have taught you a lesson, but you’re still repeating the failure.
2. Those that taught you a lesson and you never did it again.
3. Those where the situation will probably never happen again and give you no opportunity to fail again.
Looking at those three types, I bet most of your embarrassing memories fall into 2 and 3.
And doesn’t that give you cause for joy?
Because if it’s a #3 memory, well, it’s no longer an issue, right? Confess it if you need to and then let it be.
But if it’s #2 memory, to paraphrase the poster, it could be that God’s purpose for that memory was to serve as a warning for you for the rest of your life. And you heeded it.
And that means God has done a work in your life.
That just leaves the #1 kind of memories. If you have those, pray that God will enable to you to make changes in your choices so they will fall into the type 2 kind of bad memory.
And then you can thank God that the memories that used to make you cringe now give you joy.
I’ll just leave you with another ‘Mistakes’ poster that made me laugh.
A Twisting Fascinating Epic Fantasy
5 out of 5 stars.
A decade or so ago, I watched the Michael Chrichton movie Twister, and the early dialogue explained that the protagonist researchers had three complex and expensive measuring devices and their goal was to successfully place one in a tornado’s path during a superstorm. So, I said to myself, the movie’s plot will be them failing twice and then being triumphantly successful with the last machine, against all odds and competing against a more fully funded research team. And this is exactly what happened [Oh, I’m sorry, Spoiler Alert!]. So I (along with, I presume, most alert viewers) knew the basic structure of the entire plot, including the ending, before getting twenty minutes into the movie.
In extreme contrast to that experience is the reading of ‘A Throne Of Bones’ by Vox Day. On a micro and macro level, the reader is surprised (not to mention shocked and stunned), narrative directions are turned 180 degrees and assumptions are ripped away. I never knew where it was heading next.
And here’s the good news: It’s a delightful experience.
When I reviewed ‘Summa Elvetica’, Vox Day’s last fiction book, I wrote, ‘My feeling here is that this book could be a “The Hobbit”-like prelude to a much more significant fictional writing.’ This, I’m pleased to say, is what the author has done. ‘Throne’ is placed in the same universe as that book and only a few years (months?) later.
And what is this universe? Just like with Summa, imagine Rome in the fifth century, complete with a Christian heritage. Now add in magic. And elves. And dwarves and goblins and some kind of new immortal creature.
But the geography is completely different. The Empire is Amorr. In it, there are two very strong family houses that are growing more and more at odds with each other. In one of these houses, two brothers are in conflict – for good reason. And dark tidings are reaching its neighbor to the north, Savonne, about the ulfin, sentient wolf-men, attacking it’s northern neighbor.
Vox has clearly done his research and I’m guessing that there are few books that give a better picture of what it must have been like to be in an armed conflict in a Roman legion. It puts you right into the battle. One of my favorite chapters has a stream of narrative following the downfall of several named but nameless fighters. In other sections, the reader is also given a fascinating (and I’m guessing fairly realistic) view into the inner-mechanics of Roman/Amorran politics.
Each chapter is from the perspective of one of nine different characters – A rebellious daughter, a general, a princess, a dutiful son, a crafty dwarf. All of these characters are flawed. All of them are interesting and complex.
I will say that in giving this five stars, I’m rounding up. I’d like to give it 4 ½ stars. The book is not perfect. To wit -
The author says in his acknowledgements that he won’t be letting his kids read this book yet. This, I think, is wise. Unfortunately. I’d love to give most of this book to my 14 year old son to read. Perhaps 98 percent of it. The offending two percent is some brief PG13 level sexual content and some fairly graphic battle violence. And some scatological stuff. Oh well.
My other disgruntlement is that this book ends very suddenly, with very little by way of denouement (yes, I just looked up how to spell that word – by all means, let me know if I’ve used it improperly). True, this book is the first of a set, but my thought is that a first book should tie up a few loose ends or have more of a cliff-hanger. You know, like winning the battle at Helm’s deep, or leaving Frodo with the Orcs in the Tower. (I must admit, however, that it does have a face-off that was somewhat satisfying and one mystery solved, slightly disappointingly, right in the last few chapters).
But overall this is a very readable book that made me want to keep on reading. It is, in turn, humorous, shocking and exciting. There are beautiful moments, there is clever dialogue, there is deep mystery. It took some level of genius to write it. I recommend you read it.
As a disclaimer, I should say that I was one of the proofreaders of this book. And Vox Day is a friend of mine. It was a pleasant experience to get an advanced reading of all these chapters. So it might be correct to assume that I am a little biased.
Because we’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And we need a little angel, sitting on our shoulder.
We need a little Christmas now.
“Will it make someone feel bad?” is a fairly good heuristic for personal, political and ecclesiastical behavior. But it is an imperfect guide.