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Last week, I was lucky enough to take Thelonious to his very first live NFL game. I surprised him with a pair of tickets after school on Thursday. He’s been begging for me to take him to a pro sports game for a couple of years now and when he saw those tickets, I thought he was going to wet himself, have an aneurism, or both. I was a little nervous, though. Sometimes with things like these, the expectations can outweigh the actual experience (like the time he fell asleep during the Weezer concert). But, that Thursday night game was nothing but pure gold. Seattle Seahawks: 31 Philadelphia Somebodies: a lot less than 31. It was tons of fun – we won, there was lots of scoring, and Marshawn Lynch hit beast mode (more than once).

Of course, all pro sporting events are a cultural mixed bag. Something happens to humans when they are sitting with 60,000 other people dressed identically to them. Or, maybe it’s just that after you’ve spent $97 on a ticket, $12 on nachos, and $16 on a pair of beers, you figure you’ve actually paid for the privilege of abandoning all social norms, etiquette, and decent human behavior.

Let’s be honest: the 300 level of an NFL game is no place for small children.

Luckily, I had the wherewithal to warn T before we went in to the stadium. “Son, you’re going to hear a lot of things tonight. Yes. Many of them you have heard from your mom. But, many of these words, and their contexts, are going to be brand new. Be prepared.” And the guy sitting directly behind us surely did not disappoint. I don’t believe he was actually capable of expressing a thought or emotion without using the f word. If his sentence consisted of more than a single noun and single verb, it included the f word. Me hungry… Me effing hungry for some big a** effing nachos! Constantly. For three hours. It got old pretty quickly, but, ya know, what are you gonna do?

The game ended and we started walking the six miles back to our car. Thelonious and I were basking in the afterglow of a truly great evening and debriefing everything that had happened. I asked him how he felt about the guy behind us and all of us his annoying chatter. At that point, Thelonious turned to me and said, “after about 15 minutes, I really wanted to turn around and tell that guy to shut the fuck up.”

My mind was instantly filled with questions. How do I parent in this situation? Is there any soap in this alleyway that I can wash his mouth out with? Is it more important for me to reassure Thelonious that I am a safe place where he can experiment with expressing his emotions and thoughts – or that I correct his every misstep? If I don’t make him pay for that f bomb, do I “lose”? When I die, do I want my child to say “I was always safe with him. He could handle and accept anything that I threw at him. I never worried that he didn’t love me totally and completely”? Or, would I prefer that he say “that man could really discipline” ? And on and on and on. Finally, I just chuckled and said let’s not use that word anymore, mmmm k?

I know not everyone agrees with my parenting style. But, I don’t really care.

I completed the conversation with this: “I won’t tell mom you used the f word if you don’t tell her I urinated in an alley.”

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There’s a lot of talk about universalism these days. The strangest thing to me about all of this talk is how pejorative a term “universalist” has become. “Yer a no good, yellow bellied, puppy-killing Satan worshipper!” “Oh ya? Well, yer a universalist!” In the conversation thats been going on, being a universalist is apparently the worst thing one can be. And, this raises some questions for me.

Are we saved through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – or, through belief in hell? If someone claims that there is no hell, a certain portion of the Christian family thinks that is enough to label them a heretic and a blasphemer – which automatically excludes them from participating in eternal life with Jesus. Or, to put it another way: not believing in hell is enough to send one to hell.

That’s weird.

I wonder if we shouldn’t be more concerned with what we believe about Jesus rather than what we believe about hell.

P.S. If you search google images for “jesus” and “devil” you get a surprising amount of pictures of Mike Huckabee.

Every February in Seattle, something unusual happens: the sun comes out and the weather is glorious. After a fortnight of cold, gray, dreary skies, the sun is welcomed with open arms. Sure, it’s a little cold, but you can deal with it long enough to go outside and soak up that vitamin D. And, it does actually warm up a bit. In fact, the soil, the earth itself warms a few degrees – just enough for your shrubs and trees to begin their growth cycle and send out those delicate little buds.

Then, it happens. It could be 3 days, it could be 2 weeks. But, sooner or later it happens. It always happens. Some wise ass says, “It looks like Spring came early this year!” POW! Instantly, Mr Coldmeiser comes back in a fury and rage! The sun disappears. The temperature drops. The snow comes (sometimes). That same wise ass says, “Well, February is the middle of winter. What did ya expect?”

What price do we pay for that brief glimpse of sun in the middle of winter? The returning cold kills all that new growth on our trees and shrubs. See, they don’t have brains. When the ground warms, they grow. When the ground cools, they stop. Now, they don’t know whether to shit or go blind. And, the longer this period of premature sunshine lasts, the crappier our plants are going to look all year and the shorter and crappier our summer is going to be.

Welcome to the February Fake-out. Consider yourselves warned.

I happened upon a talk radio show this morning. The tirade against the protests in Egypt was followed by a fervent call to prayer. And then, on to the commercials. The advertisement for the Schick Shadel Hospital (an alcohol cessation program) was followed by one promising to sell ammo to “anyone.” This juxtaposition causes me great concern.

30 minutes is just about the perfect length for a record consisting of 16 songs.
If you can’t say it 2 minutes, it probably isn’t worth saying.

I don’t want to share the road with bicycles.

In 1980, Rise Above was the greatest song I had ever heard. Today, it still is.

I ♥ to hate.
I don’t know why, but, more often than not, I find myself fueled by negative energy.

I, literally, spend a small portion of each day overwhelmed by fear and anxiety at the thought of Sarah Palin becoming the next president of the United States.

I went to a yoga class. Yoga would be an enjoyable form of exercise… if it didn’t give you demons. I think it also gave me the farts.

This morning I did some light grocery shopping at the Safeway by our house – the same Safeway we’ve shopped at 2-3 times every week for the past 8 years. Everything seemed pretty normal… till I went to check out. I picked Samantha’s line because she is our favorite checker. I got all the way to the front and started entering my Safeway club card number before I realized it. Samantha was 8 inches taller than she was 3 days ago.

I leaned over the mini conveyor belt to see what she was standing on. There was nothing under her feet but a rubberized mat to counteract the damage done by standing on a concrete floor 8 hours a day. I was about to ask her how a 50 year old woman had grown so quickly. But, when I looked into her face, I suddenly became very confused: those lips look collagen filled; that mole is on the wrong side of the face; her voice is… different.

I didn’t understand. I mean, that was Samantha. She’s hard to miss – it’s as if she walked out of a Motley Crue show at the Troubadour 25 years ago and stepped directly behind the cash register at Safeway. She has a vine tattooed around her upper arm. She is painfully thin. Her hair is 14 different shades of “blonde” and halfway ratted out for a Saturday night in Lynnwood. This is not a grocery store clerk you easily forget – or mistake for someone else.

I thought to myself – could it be? Is it possible that the Safeway management had hired not one super friendly, aging blond hessian with a penchant for blue eyeshadow, but had decided to also hire her twin sister of amazonian height?

But, then… I saw her name tag… and, it read: Samantha!

How could this be? What was happening?!? It was her but it wasn’t her! I mean, she was Samantha, but not the version of Samantha I am used to.

And then it hit me: alternate universe. It’s the only possibility. I must have stepped out of my minivan on Earth Prime and walked through the automatic sliding doors to Earth 2. It just makes sense. Everything is the same, yet just a little bit different. My mind started racing – how else had the reality I’d known been altered here? In this universe, did my wife still love me? Had W taken permanent hold of the executive branch? Were all women 8 inches taller? Was Lex Luthor a good guy?

Simply put, I’ve decided to see the glass as half full and grab this opportunity by the proverbial horns. So, in this universe, I eat 100% of the suggested daily intake of bran every day, exercise 5 times a week, and take my vitamins.

That was easy.

from disciple to partner

Several months ago, I off handedly mentioned the chili cheese omelette©. to my good friend, Joel Bratt. Much to my dismay, this Michigan native had never even heard of a chili cheese omelette™. Right then and there, I committed to join Joel in a spiritual journey, a quest if you will. The Rastafari may have the herb; but, we have the chili cheese omelette®. Over the course of several months, Joel and I have searched across two counties and three zip codes to find the ultimate chili cheese omelette™. Sure, we’ve found some disappointment along the way. But, as I explained to my young (and good looking) padowan, disappointment is just part of fulfillment.

This morning, we found fulfillment. I present you with the 6 egg chili cheese omelette©.

the promised land

6 eggs sound daunting for one man, no matter what his level of spiritual maturity. So, when we discovered the hash browns were bottomless, we opted to share. As we wiped the last of the sour cream infused chili juice with our slices of white toast from our plates, something glorious happened. Joel looked at me and said, “I think I could do another.” So, we did. Today, a disciple became a partner.

I love church work.

And, now, I think I will nap.

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In honor of the oppressed who gained some level of voice and empowerment in last night’s election, I decided to wear my Clash “Know Your Rights” t-shirt today. Ione and I were brushing our teeth (actually, I was brushing my teeth and she was just hanging out on the toilet) when she saw my shirt and asked, “Daddy, does your shirt say ‘now your rights’?”

“No, sweetie, it says Know. Know your rights.”

“But, daddy, you’re a left.”

Speaking of rights, this morning I came to the realization that I don’t have to be friends with anyone – on facebook that is. See, I’ve been getting riled up about what some people have entered as their “status.” I rile easy, and I de-rile with much work over a long period of time. So, avoiding the initial riling is important for my spiritual health and well being (not to mention the class project due tomorrow). After my blood boiled over one particularly shameful jingoistic “status” I read this morning, I was prepared to explode – figuratively and literally. And then, it occurred to me. I do not have to be facebook friends with individuals who express their vitriolic fear through jackassery. So, I deleted them and feel much better.

Speaking of jackassery, for many years I thought that word had been invented by my friend, Bill Power. Just a few years ago, I discovered it is a real word! I read it in a scholarly theological work on sin by Cornelius Plantinga. Who knew?

Speaking of Plantinga, he understands sin as the lack or absence of shalom (or, “the way things God intended them to be”). I think in last night’s election, a little bit of shalom was restored and the kingdom of God was made visible.

Sometimes, I just don’t have the time or energy to write three to five creative paragraphs about the interesting events happening in my life. I chipped a tooth. My dislike for the GOP has grown. I’m planning the men’s retreat. My family is vacationing in California. See? Sometimes, one sentence is all I have time for. And, that is why, I thank God for facebook’s “status” feature. With the addition of the facebook app on my iphone, I can now continuously and constantly update my status – no matter where I am – so you know exactly what is happening in my life.

I know that most of my existence is too entertaining and unique to be fully captured in a single sentence that always begins with “Jim is…” I realize that reading an actual blog post fulfills your life more than reading “Jim is blogging.” I know that as a complex individual my status changes quite often – sometimes in the midst of changing my status! But, it is better than nothing isn’t it?

And, in the end, I must confess that I find it easier to obsess in 5 word bursts.

It is what it is.

I’ve never been one to hide the fact that clinical depression and I have a long and sordid history. Some people find it hard to believe – “but, Jim, yer so funny and upbeat all the time – how could you be depressed?” The answer is simple. I often choose to be depressed in the privacy of own my home. And, that makes diagnosing my bouts with depression all the harder. But, tonight, I came to a realization. I might be depressed.

Three nights ago, on an impulse, I ran out to Target and bought Rob & Big, Season 1 and 2. I know that doesn’t sound too incriminating on the surface. But, one of the first signs of depression is living vicariously through the friendships you see on tv. In 1995, this was manifest in the series Friends. Every Thursday at 9:31, I could feel my mood sour as I began to miss my “friends” who I wouldn’t be able to hang out with again for seven whole days. But, I digress.

I bought Rob & Big. I watch 2 to 3 hours of Rob and Big and Meaty and Mini Horse per night. I sit alone in my basement and laugh hysterically. I think about what fun it would be to hang out with Rob and Big and accompany them on one of their wacky adventures. I find myself saying, “son” and “do work.” When Thelonious does something I approve of, I let him know I approve by labeling it “official.” Long after my family goes to sleep, I succumb to my depressive tendencies and watch the deleted scenes into the wee hours of the morning. I’m getting worried, though. I only have one disc left. Then what will I do?

Thank God there is only one week left of summer vacation and soon I will be alone in my house for 30 glorious hours per week. My children will be on a schedule and I will have predetermined tasks and responsibilities. What’s this? I feel the cloud of depression lifting already…