Saturday, March 31, 2007

Strange Bedfellows

Marc Danziger, also known as "Armed Liberal," of has given us the biggest surprise we could have imagined. I've got to say I'm shocked. Pleasantly surprised, but shocked at the same time.

I'm a liberal Democrat (pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-progressive taxation, pro-equal rights, pro-environmental regulation, pro-public schools) who supported and supports the war in Iraq. As I tell my liberal friends "Did I miss the part where it was progressive not to fight medieval religious fascists?"

I've been waiting for four years for the White House to start really explaining the war to the American people, and to do anything sensible at all to maintain the political capital necessary to keep America in the fight - to keep us from withdrawing because the war is too messy, or too long, or just plain makes us feel bad.......

I've given up, and decided that it's up to each of us to start doing more. To that end, I've decided to start a PAC that will offer support to Congressional candidates of either party who support a foreign policy that doesn't involve wishing problems away.

Just when I thought everybody was going to abandon the fight and go home, chastised against ever doing anything hard and messy again, no matter what's at stake… here comes a left-wing, secular progressive blogger to the rescue. God bless you, sir (no offense) and welcome to the fight.

I've always thought that many liberal ideas are wrapped up in self-centered concerns of how you might feel or how people might feel about you. Therefore in these situations the cure is be thoroughly convinced that something is so absolutely serious that it outweighs anyone's feelings.

Most of the really tough decisions in life require you to do something you'd rather not have to do. The mark of a mature adult is that they can bear that responsibility and do the right thing.

Clear as Mud

In my post yesterday, I was talking about the military and I confused several readers. So let me try again.

  • I'm pro-military.
  • An occasional member of the military (like any other group) will be rude, almost hostile – a rare event.
  • I've had this happen twice just recently (with individuals I don't know personally), while hundreds of other encounters were positive.
  • I'm always surprised, when it happens. Most military people aren't like that and it's certainly not how I feel about them.
  • The military people I know (like the ones at church) are some of the nicest and most respectful I've ever met. They've been exemplary.
  • In the metaphor, military-types see themselves as the sheepdogs while civilians are sheep.
  • I'm saying there is a fourth category of people: shepherds.
  • Shepherds would be the civilian government, of course, to whom the military answers.
  • Shepherds would also be the religious leaders in a community, who also protect the sheep (spiritually speaking).
  • I personally felt a little defensive that, while I respect all of them, a few would not reciprocate. It's okay, I shouldn't have even let it affect the tone of my article.
  • My boys will remember that no matter how much responsibility they bear, other people (like their Dad) have important jobs too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Promoting Sheepdogs

Shannon and I went to Ft. Leavenworth yesterday for the promotion ceremony of one of our church members. Major R. became Lieutenant Colonel R. yesterday afternoon, perhaps the hardest to spell rank in the military (closely followed by Gunnery Sergeant, Ensign, and Corporal).

The crowd was about half civilian and half military, mostly mid-level officers (the dominant species in these parts). I thoroughly enjoy being around military folks, especially one on one. In fact, we had a very pleasant conversation with the commander, a Colonel, who promoted our friend. But unfortunately "military bearing" can sometimes come across as "hostile disgust," appropriately directed at terrorists but probably not the best tact with taxpayers. I've run into a few officers and soldiers in recent years who silently screamed with their eyes and posture, "I hate you and wish you'd just die." Every time I run into this I want to look them square in the eye and say, "I'm not an ignorant, helpless sheep, so stop looking at me like that!"

In military circles there's a maxim that only three types of people exist in the world: sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. All kinds of conclusions are drawn from the similarities and differences between the sheepdogs and the wolves, with noble conclusions about the role of the sheepdog and his relationship to the sheep. But there's a glaring error with this little parable: sheepdogs don't work alone or for themselves. The adage obviously forgets the shepherds.

The leadership and care of a Pastor (which means shepherd) is vital whether you're talking about religious leaders or civilian ones. And the sheepdogs should always remember that they do their noble work at the behest of the shepherd.

I'm a strong advocate for the military and, as much as a civilian possibly can, I feel I can intelligently understand where they're coming from. Shepherds and sheepdogs are on the same team; we both understand great responsibility and ought to respect each other. So in spite of the gulf that exists between Army culture and civilian culture, there is little in this world that I respect more than military service and few things could make me more proud than if my boys would serve in the military.

They just better not look at me like that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


What is Graham's first complex motor skill now that he's one year old?

Sword fighting.

I was shocked to find that Brennan equips baby Graham with a plastic sword and gets him to fight back. Here's my one-year-old hacking away at his older brother with vigor! Graham intentionally hits Brennan's sword with his own and I was stunned to see how hard the little guy was concentrating.

It makes a lot of sense though – the youngest of four boys – it would behoove him to know how to fight back.

900 Posts

The previous post was my 900th blog article.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog; there's something for almost everyone sooner or later.

God bless.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random Thoughts 3/27/07

  • Frustration! I've been trying to attend an FPU class (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University - the best church financial program, hands down). But three weeks in a row, I'm going to miss. The kids were sick, the church camp had a board meeting, and now MOPS has a steering team meeting and Shannon doesn't have child care for the kids. Oh well, I guess I don't mind. All of those other things are important too, and I've already taken the Dave Ramsey class and will attend them in the future too. I just wanted to be there to be supportive and I'm not getting that chance. C'est la vie.
  • I saw a neighbor outside this morning and gave a typical Kansan salutation, "Howdy." Howdy? He probably thinks I just fell of the turnip truck. Who am I, Jethro fishing in the cement pond? I winced when I said it because it just sounded so unpolished, but I'm actually fond of several American colloquialisms and witticisms. I like words and the history of words; it's just that "howdy" seemed a little inadequate for the moment.
  • In addition to monkeying around on the swing set, Brennan has taken to climbing door frames. He shimmies up to the ceiling, and today I walked under him and let him sit on my shoulders. The problem is that Brennan, more than the others, can find a way to hurt himself. "Don't worry, Mom, I'll break the fall with my face!"
  • We're hoping to see the musical Oklahoma with some friends from church this summer. We're making arrangements now, since we don't have tickets for the same day yet, but we're hoping to work it out. These friends are actually from Oklahoma and warned us that they might stand up and sing along during some parts. Well, if a couple of Kansans are willing to be seen with them, then we must love them an awful lot.
  • I've found that I can't buy most books any cheaper than I can at Cheaper than Amazon, cheaper than Books-a-Million, cheaper than CBD, just plain cheap! We had a "special" deal from CBD the other day and found that the special, one day offer was still more expensive than the Wal-Mart's price (which included the shipping).


We have several absorbent stone coasters that we use at home, mostly adorned with KU logos and such. My favorite coaster, the one that I used while playing cards or watching TV, was a particularly nice Jayhawk coaster that was beginning to show some stains. So I followed the instructions from the company and placed my coaster in the dishwasher where it's printing was ruined straightaway. Shannon pulled it out of the dishwasher and commented that the obliterated Jayhawk looked tie-dyed.

Well, I wrote an email to the manufacturers, including a picture of the ruined coaster (sitting on a Bible of course), and asked what my options were.

The company, Stillwater's Waterstone Coasters, wrote back last night to say that they are sending me a package of two replacement coasters, emblazoned with bright crimson and blue Jayhawks, for free! They were very apologetic and generous and I couldn't be more pleased with their response. I'll definitely buy from them again (although I'll be more careful about cleaning them). You can find their products at local Wal-Mart stores and on their website,

By the way, if you have any connection to Oklahoma, or know someone that does, this is the place to go. Oklahoma-philia consumes most of their product line. Hmmm… maybe that explains why they were so eager to get rid of a couple of Jayhawk coasters…

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Best Boxing Movies…

…have very little to do with boxing.

I took the day off and we watched Rocky Balboa (2006) late in the afternoon. It was a good movie but the best parts had nothing to do with the action in the ring. Rocky's struggle against age and his interactions with those in his life (and those who aren't) are central to this movie and make it worthwhile.

It's the human drama that make the fight scenes matter and all good boxing movies know to follow this formula.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March Madness Round 4

Here's the final four: Ohio St, UCLA, Florida, and Georgetown. KU's loss was really hard to take, but that's the way things go.

All nine of our participants had the final four on their list, but Zach had all four teams in his top six! This is why he's leading the pack (though Justin is right behind him). The problem is that Zach can't be caught now (congrats, Zach) because even if Georgetown beats Florida in the finals, Justin can only make up 5 points and he's 6 points down.

Thanks for playing everybody. I'll continue to update the stats and give you the final scores.

Check out the updated Sweet 16 stats here.

Passionately Pursuing

A church member emailed me the other day and asked, why does God communicate through scripture? Doesn't that leave too much uncertainty? Good question. It certainly would be clearer if we each had a "Damascus Road" experience and God just spoke directly to us. But here's my response:

A lot of the most difficult passages are not essential material and, conversely, the most essential elements of Christian doctrine are, for the most part, plainly clear. So exploring the ins and outs of Zechariah or Revelation will not directly affect someone's salvation. Where the story of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is plain and straightforward and so important it's told four times.

But why would God communicate this by written language that could be misunderstood? It's the same reason that he doesn't appear physically to each person with a trumpet blast and a host of angels. God desires us to love him when we have the option not to. He values faith more than obligation, choice more than compulsion. In fact, Jesus taught in parables for the very reason that those who pursued him would be rewarded while those who didn't would only be more frustrated. If God was undeniably spoon-fed to us than we wouldn't need faith, because only self-destructive people and the insane would reject what can't be denied. Devotion wouldn't be a requirement.

And God wants us to pursue him.

Every meaningful relationship requires devotion. We have to "choose to pursue" in order for the relationship to be worthwhile. With God that means carefully and earnestly seeking him out: We have to discern false teachers from true ones. We have to meditate on and reflect on scriptures. We have to battle competing philosophies and world views.

It's not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

March Madness Round 3

Seven of the nine guys had all 8 of the "elite eight" teams on their list. Zach B. had 7 of them as his top 7 teams, giving him 98 out of 100 possible points. Way to go, Zach!

Because our lists are so similar, it's going to make it really hard to catch up. In fact, at this point I can't catch up to Zach no matter what because I have essentially the same list but with the teams ranked lower; I can only steadily lose ground or stay the same distance behind. I was low score again this round. Wisconsin and Texas absolutely killed my bracket!

The committee did an impressive job. When was the last time the Elite Eight was four number ones, three twos and a three seed?

Check out the updated Sweet 16 stats here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Armed and Harmless

I have a sword hanging on the wall in my office, a Japanese Katana (pictured below) that I bought 13 years ago. Some may ask, "Preacher, why do you have a sword hanging on your wall?"

1) It's cool.
2) It's got historical connections.

I bought the sword, not in Japan, but while doing missionary work in the Philippines. The sword is not high quality – there are several inaccuracies in design and material – but as I was almost talking myself out of making the purchase, one of the missionaries said that these cheap knock-offs are made from the leaf springs of American World War 2 jeeps. This tidbit turned me around 180º and I couldn't pay the $20 fast enough.

I wouldn't mind adding a few more historical swords to my collection:

An Egyptian Khopesh is a strangely shaped bronze sword that may have roots with the Sumerians (near Abraham and Lot's old neighborhood) and definitely has history with the Canaanites. It made its way to Egypt by the time of the Exodus and would have been the sword the Israelite slaves feared and, much later, Jeremiah warned about. Though I don't know for sure, I'd bet that many of the sword references in the Old Testament may refer to the Khopesh. The sword is sharp on the outer curve for slashing and has a notch which can be used to pull an enemy's shield down. But a well balanced Khopesh, like the one pictured above, could thrust as well.

Cost for a replica: $150

I've become kind of an aficionado of the Roman Gladius. It's the sword that conquered the world, was common in Jesus' time, and gave it's name to the gladiator. Unlike the slashing Katata and Khopesh, it's primarily a thrusting sword with a sharp point. It has a wood and bone hilt with a large pommel and the blade is double edged with no grooves, fuller or ricasso. The one pictured above is a "Mainz" style blade that's slightly wasp-waisted. I like how plain and simple the Gladius is, often the only decorations are on the scabbard.

Cost for a realistic replica: $200-300

When am I going to be willing to blow hundreds of dollars on wall hangings? Probably never. But for a history buff like me, it's always cool to window shop.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bandwagon Filling Up

The Jayhawks play this evening in the Sweet 16 and the national sports news outlets are finally getting on board! If they win tonight, I think the buzz will reach fever pitch. Most of the full-time KU fans I know are also pretty excited but there is one painful caveat:

The best team doesn't always win the NCAA tourney.

In fact when KU last won, in 1988, they were not nearly the best team in the field (or even in the Big 8).

As one of the hottest teams in the country, I'm certainly hoping the Jayhawks continue in their winning ways, but I'm resting comfortably in the knowledge of the following:

  • The national media has recognized KU as a great team, actually learning the names of our players and touting them as potential champions.
  • Kansas didn't lose in the first round this year!
  • Kansas will be back in the NCAA tourney next year and the year after… and the year after that… and the year after that…
  • Coach Self is a great college basketball coach. Period.
  • I don't even know what a Saluki is.
  • The Jayhawks won the Big 12. Again.
  • Two words: Cole Aldrich, next year's 5-star, 7-foot freshman.
  • Our best years may be yet to come.

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! KU!

Book Reviews

Here's a word on some of the books that I've finished in the last four or five months. I probably have a dozen books of different types that I'm currently "reading," which means I have a bookmark in them and I won't re-shelve them until they get finished. And that doesn't count the numerous reference books that I open up and use on a weekly basis for sermons and classes and such.

Anyway, here's a few of the books that I actually finished recently:

  • State of Fear (2004), by Michael Crichton – I don't read a lot of novels but I really enjoyed State of Fear. It helped that a big chunk of the book is one character revealing to another character the lies behind global warming, almost making the novel more of a primer on debunking myths and propaganda. But it's also another solid story from Crichton, a real page turner, but one that will certainly not get him invited to many Hollywood dinners. And I'll bet this one doesn't get turned into a movie like many of his other novels.
  • Can I recommend an old one I just re-read again? Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator (2004) is such a well written book on Creation! It's intelligent but accessible at the same time. I keep going back to it and enjoying Strobel's style of letting you overhear a lively interview with a fascinating expert. It reminds me of Fred Craddock's book, Overhearing the Gospel, which emphasizes the power of being told something indirectly.
  • Caro's Book of Poker Tells (2003), by Mike Caro – this was the a surprisingly useful read. Of course it helps when playing card games to know when your opponent might be hiding something, but the material here translates into everyday life too! I've read a couple of books on poker tells (body language under stress) and now I feel like a walking lie-detector. I've especially noticed this during counseling and meetings when people feel a lot of pressure but aren't willing to reveal it to you.
  • The Merchant of Venice (1596), by William Shakespeare – One of the best known plays by Shakespeare, I read this last fall and, as the months have gone by, liked it less and less. It just didn't click with me, even though there were several parts worth underlining and I even used one excerpt in a sermon illustration. The story itself is just not a favorite.

Okay, now it's time to finish up all of those other books.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tanner's Teeth

Tanner's teeth are in pretty bad shape (from his run-in with Kelby). They probably need to be pulled, although there's still a chance they might improve. Because he's only five, he'll be missing his front teeth for almost two years, the poor thing. I'm still hoping that maybe they'll improve before his next appointment early next month.

Random Thoughts 3/21/07

  • It's the first day of Spring, did you get your free cup of iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts? I'm not sure what iced coffee has to do with Spring, but I'm still wrestling with why one would want iced coffee to begin with. I was also surprised to find that there are only two Dunkin' Donuts stores within 100 miles of Kansas City (one in St. Joe and one in Lawrence); this is Krispy Kreme country!
  • True colors shining through? "Peace protesters" in Portland, Oregon burned American soldiers in effigy and burned upside down American flags. I thought everyone supported the troops? But now that recruiting stations are being vandalized and masked protesters are turning violent, their anarchist, anti-American bent is on display for all to see. They have the right to peacefully assemble but that doesn't cure their ignorance or their hatred. What a noble thing it is that our troops would fight and die for people like this.

  • Tanner had to go the dentist today because of his run in with Kelby at Graham's birthday party. The dentist will determine whether those teeth need to be pulled… I'll keep you updated as soon as we find out more information.
  • Professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London, Philip Scott, said recently, "Climate is governed by everything from the tilt of the earth, to volcanoes, ocean currents, sun spots, cosmic rays, solar sunspots, meteors and reflection from the land. So to put it all down to one factor - human CO2 emissions - is just not credible and the idea that politicians can control the climate is nonsense." Al Gore disagreed in a hearing for Congress' Energy Committee where one Democrat on the committee declared him "a prophet" in this religion of climate change. Gore pleaded for repentance as he stubbornly clung to his dogma, in spite of the evidence. Czech president Vaclav Klaus told congress today that global warming has "turned into a religion" that has replaced communism as the greatest threat to personal freedoms. I wonder who they'll listen to?
  • It's going to time to mow the yard soon. Yuck. Winter just isn't long enough when it comes this topic. Oh well…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

32,000 Hits

We passed 32,000 hits sometime yesterday (that's 1,000 hits in less than two weeks – better than average traffic). Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Monday, March 19, 2007

March Madness Round 2

KU is still on a roll but there were some upsets. Unfortunately, I took the worst hit, being disappointed by the likes of Texas, Wisconsin, and Maryland. So even though I have a pretty high score, I'm bringing up the rear this year. Justin D. is winning at this point though everyone still technically still has a chance, depending on which team goes out when. Justin's advantage is that he has the lead in a year where our lists are all so similar; gaining ground on him will be difficult.

You can view the stats here.

The next update will be later this week after Round 3.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bork, bork, bork!

Brennan and I were waiting for the KU-UK game to start and, since I had my laptop out, I pulled up YouTube and we found all of the old Muppets' Swedish Chef skits. Brennan had never seen the Swedish Chef (or any of the old Muppet Show) though he did know Kermit the Frog, who appeared briefly. We watched about a dozen of these skits back to back.

We saw the Chef shoot the holes into donuts with a gun (Yorn desh born, de boom boom!) and have steam come out of his ears when he tasted hot sauce. Brennan cackled when the Chef tried to apply chocolate to a large moose in order to make chocolate mousse, all the while muttering in mock-Swedish and broken English.

Funny stuff, and pleasingly clean for young eyes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Random Thoughts 3/17/07

  • I received a letter notifying me that I was "selected" to be in the upcoming edition of Who's Who in Religion. Yeah, right – Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and me. Solicitations like this are usually meant to appeal to your vanity and ego and get you to buy one of their yearbooks. No thanks; it would be just the kind of thing I was talking about with personality-driven ministries, where the celebrity of the preacher is a major facet in the ministry. In my mind if you can't be content with toiling in anonymity then you might want to re-examine your motives.
  • Tanner's teeth are still loose. We persuaded him to use mouth wash to clean that nasty little mouth and I asked him to avoid hard and chewy foods for now. He asked this morning if we were going to pull his teeth out (like Brennan's recent loose tooth) but we're going to give those teeth a chance to firm up if they will. The poor guy.
  • 1,546 years ago a Christian missionary died after thirty years of preaching to drunken Irishmen. A moment of silence please…
  • The family is back on their collective feet but I'm still several days behind them. I was fine for almost a week while everybody else was ill but now I'm under the weather while Shannon and the boys are fine. Jay-rod asked me this afternoon, "Are you sure you're going to be okay for Sunday?" Yeah, I think so. I'm just worn down and I'm not going to miss church just because I feel fatigued.
  • Happy St. Patrick's Day. I heard some bars opened at 6:00am this morning. You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Can you even get a free cab ride home before noon? I traditionally wear something orange on St. Patrick's Day for the promotion of Biblical Protestantism and, of course, to be contrary. I don't actually support the Orangemen or the Orange Order (an Irish Protestant organization that is historically anti-Catholic) but anything that can prompt a conversation on church history is good.

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Madness Round 1

The higher seeds dominated (and KU made it through the first round!) paving the way for the best start to a "Sweet 16" game we've ever had.

Dustin, Kyle, and Justin picked perfectly in the first round with all sixteen teams advancing to the second round. Congrats guys! The previous best after the first round was 125 points; now three of you got a perfect 136! Chad had the worst start losing a 12-point team, while Bryan lost three bottom-feeders.

Unless we get some upsets soon, this will be the highest scoring "Sweet 16" game ever.

The updated lists are here.

The next update will be Sunday night or Monday morning.

Happy Birthday Graham

Graham turned one today. We had a party for the cute little squirt with cake and Mom's fantastic cooking (hmm… barbecue meatballs). That sweet little baby isn't so little anymore!

Graham is probably the baby of ours who smiles the most (Tanner was a close second). He's expressive and photogenic and melts hearts with his charm. He's a sweetheart. When it came time to eat his cake, Mom stripped him down to his diaper and he went to town. There's not much cuter than a one year old eating cake.

We also had a mishap at the party. Tanner and cousin Kelby ran into each other, giving Kelby a nasty head wound and knocking Tanner's front teeth loose. Tanner had the worst of it and bled profusely, while Kelby shook it off like only Kelby can. Tanner's teeth are pretty loose but we're hoping they firm up a bit in a few days.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sweet 16 (2007)

Here's our Sweet 16 game, which I'll update as each round comes to completion. Thanks for playing! Please double check for mistakes.

[Updated through Round 6]

Pts Jared Richard Bryan C.
Kyle D.
16 KU-3 KU-3 KU-3 KU-3 KU-3
15 OhioSt-5
UNC-3 Gtown-4 OhioSt-5 UNC-3
14 Wisc-1 Texas-1 Florida-6 Gtown-4 Wisc-1
13 UNC-3 Gtown-4 A&M-2 UNC-3 OhioSt-5

12 Texas-1A&M-2 UCLA-4 Florida-6A&M-2
11 A&M-2 Florida-6 Texas-1 Wisc-1Texas-1
10 MD-1 OhioSt-5 OhioSt-5
Texas-1 Florida-6
9 UCLA-4 Wisc-1 UNC-3 Memphis-3 Memphis-3
8 Memphis-3 UCLA-4 Wisc-1 Oregon-3 Pitt-2
7 Florida-6 Duke-0 Pitt-2 Pitt-2 UCLA-4
6 Duke-0 Memphis-3 SIU-2 WashSt-1 Gtown-4
5 Gtown-4 Oregon-3 WashSt-1 MD-1 Tenn-2
4 SIU-2
Butler-2 Creighton-0 A&M-2 WashSt-1
3 Virginia-1 Pitt-2 OldDom-0 USC-2 SIU-2
2 Oregon-3 SIU-2 LBSt-0
1 WashSt-1 WashSt-1 Oregon-3 Tenn-2 Oregon-3
Rd1 130 129 127 136 136
Rd2 90 105 103 104 105
Rd3 75 84 77 89 77
Rd4 36 42 51 43 36
Rd5 22 21 24 27 23
Rd6 7 11 14 12 10
Tot 360 392 396 411 387

Pts Chad W.
Zach B.
Jarod A.
Justin D.

16 KU-3 KU-3 Memphis-3 KU-3
15 UNC-3 OhioSt-5 KU-3 UNC-3
14 Florida-6 UNC-3UNC-3 Florida-6
13 A&M-2 Florida-6 Wisc-1 Gtown-4
12 ND-0 UCLA-4 OhioSt-5 OhioSt-5
11 OhioSt-5 Gtown-4 Florida-6 A&M-2
10 Gtown-4 Memphis-3 WashSt-1 UCLA-4
9 Pitt-2 Wisc-1 Duke-0 Wisc-1
8 UCLA-4 Texas-1 UCLA-4 Memphis-3
7 Texas-1 Oregon-3 Gtown-4 Texas-1
6 Wisc-1 A&M-2 A&M-2 Pitt-2
5 Memphis-3 Tenn-2 USC-2 Tenn-2
4 WashSt-1 WashSt-1
SIU-2 WashSt-1
3 MD-1 MD-1 Oregon-3 MD-1
2 Tenn-2 VTech-1 Virginia-1 SIU-2
1 SIU-2 Duke-0 OldDom-0 Oregon-3
Rd1 124 135 126 136
Rd2 104 109 101 113
Rd3 79 98 86 89
Rd4 43 51 38 49
Rd5 25 28 23 26
Rd6 14 13 11 14
Tot 389 434 385 427

Stretching the Truth

Here's another great cartoon from my favorite political cartoonists Cox & Forkum:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sweet 16

It's almost time for the NCAA tourney to begin and people everywhere are filling out their brackets.

If you'd like to do something a little different, try the "Sweet 16" game we play each year. Instead of just filling out a bracket, we pick the best sixteen teams in the tournament and rank them best to worst. The best team will get 16 points for each win, the second team will get 15 points and so on until you get to the 16th team which gets one point per win. If you put them in the correct order, your maximum score would be 477 points.

If you want to play along, just post your list of of sixteen, in order, in the comments section and I'll keep a running tally as we go along. The cutoff is Thursday morning.

Oh, and what does the winner get? The satisfaction of a job well done.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who's Da Man? Part 2

Dr. Jerry Johnston, the pastor of First Family Church in Overland Park, came under severe scrutiny by the Kansas City Star this last weekend. I don't normally read the Star (Pravda is available online), and it's usually automatic that I'd jump to the defense of a fellow Christian, but the issues for which Dr. Johnston is being scrutinized speak directly to the blog article I wrote the very same day the newspaper articles were published.

To sum up the articles, which can be found at the Kansas City Star website, Johnston's church is founded, directed, and primarily driven by Johnston and his family and some people question his accountability (and by extension his integrity). I'm actually willing to start with the assumption that Johnston is innocent of anything illegal or overtly unethical; that he is a devout believer and an earnest teacher of Biblical truth. But I also know that Johnston's philosophy of ministry is polar opposite of my own. In fact, I believe it's opposite of how a minister should act.

In my mind the church exists to exalt Christ not the preacher. But a common approach to ministry (encouraged by televangelists) is to make it personality driven, where the preacher is the man and the ministry is an extension of his personality. These ministries often bear the name of the individual preacher and revolve around him. Ministries like this are not uncommon and many are wildly successful, as "success" can be measured by this world. But to me it smacks of arrogance and narcissism and often reflects poorly on Christianity.

I'm not advocating that ministers take a vow of poverty but I would encourage ministers to commit to an attitude of humility. We don't need titles of honor, our name in lights, or to be treated like celebrities (nobody needs a special breakfast with Pastor Jared!). Nor do we need extravagant salaries, cars, homes, or vacations. And if for some reason the Lord does bless a minister with some of those things, that minister MUST be completely transparent or his motives will be suspect.

300: Greek Chic

I wasn't going to mention it, but since the movie 300 set a box office record (for movies opening in March) and it covers an historical topic that I'm keenly interested in (Greek history), I may as well weigh in.

The Battle of Thermopylae (thir-MOH-puh-lee) was a daring standoff between a few thousand Greeks and the countless hordes of Persia. Persia was invading Greece and small force of Greeks mustered to stop or slow down the invasion force at a narrow mountain pass by the sea. Because of the terrain and their bravery, the Greeks held out for two days before they were surrounded and killed. At the forefront was a contingent of 300 Spartans, including their King Leonidas. The sacrifice of the Spartans allowed the other Greek city states time to prepare and the Persian invasion was eventually defeated.

The best dramatic presentation of the battle of Thermopylae, hands down, is Steven Pressfield's novel Gates of Fire. Pressfield has written perhaps the best historical novel I've ever read and it's fairly true to the historical facts. The novel is widely read in military circles and among history buffs and my only caveat would be to keep notes of who is who when you begin reading any novel where the characters' names are in another language.

300 on the other hand is a surreal, re-imagining of history. It's mostly true to the basics of the story but Frank Miller is a comic book artist, so 300 is going to be an exaggerated, over-the-top kind of approach. I've also heard the movie is horribly gory and unnecessarily sexual.

But before I pass judgment, let's allow no lesser an authority than Victor Davis Hanson to say his peace:
But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.

If critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus — who long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian autocracy, free men in superior fashion dying for their liberty, their enslaved enemies being whipped to enslave others.

Why Heroes Fight

Here's the best 9 minutes of video you'll watch today. It's UPI war correspondent Pamela Hess talking about what really matters in Iraq.

She gets a bit emotional at times but speaks convincingly. Quoting one American soldier she says, "Every morning I wake up and I feel like I'm pushing a little girl out of the way of a bus." That's how it must feel to fight evil every day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

First Look at 2008

It's only 20 months until the next presidential election so I thought I'd give a brief preview of who'll be up against Hillary after she mauls Barack Obama.

  • Duncan Hunter – my dark-horse favorite. How do you not like this guy? As I wrote before, Hunter is "an optimistic, pro-life, support the troops and the mission, protect-the-borders, church-going, social conservative, Vietnam veteran with a son in Iraq, Reagan Republican." But I also expect him to get lost in a field of better known candidates. I just hope someone in a dark, smoke-filled room somewhere pushes Hunter to the front of the pack.
  • Sam Brownback – It would seem that Brownback would be my favorite. A Kansan that I've actually met once and the most vocally Christian candidate in the race, Brownback may however lack the magnetism to appeal to anyone other than fellow conservative Christians. In fact, I'll bet that he has the opposite effect on many Americans, personifying all the worst fears and suspicions of an American theocracy. I'd rather he stay in the Senate or maybe run for Governor some day.
  • Rudy Giuliani – probably the most electable and most likely to beat Hillary. I could actually support Giuliani, not because I share his personal politics, but because I believe he would govern rightly in all the ways that matter, including his nomination of strict-constructionist judges. Giuliani has a lot of baggage but could easily be a great president. And as former mayor of NYC, he might rank above some of the state governors in actual governing experience.
  • John McCain – the opposite of Giuliani, in that I think McCain has proven that he'll won't govern rightly in all the ways that matter. I trust that McCain will always find the shortest route to the worst solution; purposefully or not, he's a magnet for disaster. No one invokes the retort, "Whose side are you on?!" more than McCain.
  • Mitt Romney – the Mormon candidate. He's actually pretty electable and I could support him as one of the few Reagan Republicans in the field. I'll bet that his religion will be of little or no consequence in his administration, and thus shouldn't be as big a deal as some make it out to be.
  • Mike Huckabee – kind of similar in some ways to Hunter or Brownback. Huckabee probably doesn't have a shot but it would be easy to like him. He's a former Baptist minister and governor of Arkansas, famous for losing 110 pounds. I bet he'd be a lot like George W. Bush: socially conservative but a mixed bag fiscally.

Others to consider:
  • Newt Gingrich – Yoda should remain in the background for now. Any candidate should sit at his feet and listen carefully, but please do as he says not as he does.
  • Jeb Bush – probably won't run but probably will be a future VP. He's actually a pretty good choice as a running mate.
  • Condoleeza Rice – another good choice for VP, she says she won't run although there is a "draft Condi" movement afoot.
  • Chuck Hagel, Ron Paul, and other RINOs. Not a chance.

Final notes:
  • Governors, generals, and mayors are usually better suited to be presidents. Senators (who all think they should be President) usually aren't.
  • "One question, sir: If elected, what kind of judge would you nominate for the Supreme Court." The correct answer is "a strict Constructionist, Mr. Lehrer."
  • Some of the best men (and women) for the job don't have a realistic chance of being considered.
  • Only Guiliani, and maybe Romney, seem have a chance to beat Hillary by people actually voting for them, while anyone would have a chance with people voting against Hillary. That's scary because it means a bad candidate just might slip through because of the negative vote Hillary will likely generate.
  • Which is better, a Christian President who compromises too much or a more secular President who stands on his principles? That's a tough call. Reagan and Lincoln were both closer to the latter than the former though that's not the way we remember them, where sincere Christians like Carter or Wilson don't always fair as well.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who's Da Man?

For about the third time in six and a half years I was too ill to preach on Sunday. Fortunately, we don't have a church that's revolves around the preacher. Jay-rod was able to preach a sermon he already had prepared and everybody knows how to step in and take care of things. My folks called afterward and said things went really well.

I hate missing and it seems strange not seeing everyone today but I love that our church isn't personality driven. If something more serious ever happened and I couldn't be the preaching minister there, I would expect that our church could smoothly transition to another preaching minister. At the same time, if I'm at Wyandotte for another 30 years, we're setting a good example of humility and selflessness as leaders (I hope). Our ministers and elders don't promote themselves like what you see in some churches. My name isn't on the sign out front, I don't perform every baptism or micromanage every ministry, and life doesn't grind to a halt if I'm missing for a day.

What's so wrong with being more assertive? In many cases a minister can create more buzz and push a church to greater highs in attendance and productivity by shear force of personality. The problem lies not in the amount that he works but the method. And, frankly, some methods are more worldly and self-absorbed. These methods mean more marketing and less prayer, more personal accolades and fewer humble foot washings. It can quickly become all about titles, perks, respect, and prestige instead of a calling, patience, and diligence. The easy road to "success" is to make everything revolve around "the man." The hard road is one of equipping others while selflessly toiling in obscurity.

We certainly don't have it down perfectly, but I can sleep at night knowing that I'm NOT building a kingdom that's all about Jared Altic.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tempting Fate

Okay, so it may have been a little foolhardy to be so cavalier around a family full of sick people. For over a week I didn't even try to avoid kissing the poor little boogers and now I'm paying for it. I've had a fever, fatigue, cough, congestion, etc., etc., etc. I'm so miserable, I can barely blog!

I was the only one healthy for quite awhile and now that the family is just starting to get better, I'm going down for the count. What great timing!

If it weren't for KU winning ballgames everyday, I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

Rock Chalk!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Nickel Tour

I had the best time tonight. I met a group from a Baptist church in Leavenworth to take a tour of our church building. The group consisted of the preacher and six church ladies, and they were a hoot! I took them to every far flung corner of our building showing them all of our smart ideas and all of our mistakes too. One of the ladies took several pages of notes.

They seemed really impressed with our building, especially liking the women's restroom and nursery. One of the older ladies rushed right into the nursery and tried out each of the rocking chairs, one after the other, rating each chair's comfort. Another lady gleefully went through all the draws in our kitchen and cooed at the four ovens we have. Another lady carefully inspected our sound booth and asked thoughtful questions about the lighting and the projector. It was all a lot of fun and we laughed a lot.

I think I made a good impression with them. I realize there's a lot of differences between a their congregation and ours: culturally, musically, preaching styles, etc. But I also recognize that they love the same Lord. I hope I get to see them again and, after I prayed with them for God's blessing in their ministry, I told them that if they're ever stuck south of Lansing on a Sunday morning, by all means, come visit us!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

There's Sick and Then There's Sick

Our kids have been really ill the last several days. Every nasty symptom that a child can have, the four boys have had in spades (although we can't claim too many high fevers). Rashes, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, you name it. And this has been going on for almost seven days!

Poor little Graham has had it the worst. We took him to the doctor a few days ago when when he didn't eat for about 36 hours. Tanner has been struggling also, he's had the worst congestion, yet he can't stomach the medicine we have. He gags and spits it up (like his mother), where Brennan thinks most medicine tastes like candy (like his dad). Elijah's chief problem is that he's still two. Take a two year old and wear him down with illness… that's not fun for anyone.

On any given day, one or two of the boys will be doing pretty well, but overall they're all sick most all of the time. It's so bad, even Shannon's been sick, though I've managed to avoid it by getting out of the house everyday. Thank the Lord we've had some good weather so we can open a few windows and get the boys outside for an hour.

31,000 Hits

We passed 31,000 hits sometime this morning. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

History Test, part 2

Here's a blog that will tell you more about the History of Abraham Lincoln's party than you ever knew. It's a lot of the same information (and more) that I used in the post, History Test.

Did you know:

  • that the infamous Dred Scott decision fell along party lines and that Dred Scott's lawyer was one of the founders of the GOP?
  • Republicans appointed the first woman ambassador to a major country (Italy)?
  • that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, hero of Gettysburg, was an ardent Republican?
  • the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (portrayed in the movie Glory) was raised by a Republican governor?
  • the first Hispanic to serve in the cabinet was Republican?
  • that FDR's notorious executive order 9066, putting Japanese Americans in internment camps wasn't formally rescinded until President Ford in 1976?
  • Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass were Republicans?
  • at one time the Confederacy was considered a Democratic Party uprising against the government and the Ku Klux Klan was considered the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party?
  • in 1922, a Democrat filibuster in the Senate blocked passage of a Republican bill to make lynching a federal crime? The Democrats formally apologized in 2005.

Finally, end my rant against the Democrats, let me quote Oliver Morton, governor of Indiana during the Civil War and later US Senator.

“Every one who shoots down negroes in the streets, burns negro school-houses and meeting-houses, and murders women and children by the light of their own flaming dwellings, calls himself a Democrat. Every New York rioter in 1863 who burned up little children in colored asylums, who robbed, ravished, and murdered indiscriminately in the midst of a blazing city for three days and nights, calls himself a Democrat. In short, the Democratic Party may be described as a common sewer and loathsome receptacle into which is emptied every element of treason, North and South, every element of inhumanity and barbarism which has dishonored the age."


This post is dedicated to John "Birch" Elliot.

Sowing Hypocricy

Certain things really burn me. One of them is when people (and since I mean politicians, I'm using the term "people" loosely) feign religiosity. Don't patronize me!

It just grates on me to see a politician, whose religious devotion must be so private that it's virtually invisible, make a political stop at a church shouting "Hallelujah" and then go to Jewish conference wearing a yarmulke on his head. I can just picture the politician's lackeys asking on the campaign trail, "Sir, will you be needing your cross necklace, your American flag lapel pin, your yarmulke, your red ribbon, or your prayer rug today?"

Hillary Clinton was at First Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama, the other day (just 42 years too late for the marches to Montgomery) and quoted from Galatians 6:9, "And we know -- we know -- we know, if we finish this march, what awaits us? St. Paul told us, in the letter to the Galatians, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due seasons we shall reap, if we do not lose heart."

Poor Hillary probably doesn't know that the immediate context is about true motivations and hypocrisy. Paul says in the preceding verses, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

I really believe that politicians who put on for church audiences in order to get elected will reap exactly what they sow. Don't mock God.

Monday, March 05, 2007

History Test

I heard an interesting exchange on the radio this afternoon:

Caller: "…black people act as individuals…"
Host: "Except when they vote. They vote 90% for one party."
Caller: "Well, that's because of history."

Now that caught my ear. I always thought that some of the groups that vote en masse for the Democrats did so in spite of history (the black vote especially). I mean really. Let's take a short history test:

Which party was it that prosecuted the Civil War and emancipated the slaves? Which party voted in a higher percentage for the Civil Rights Act (80% to 63%) and pushed for the 15th Amendment? Which party elected the first black Senator, the first black US Representative, the first black US Representative (post-reconstruction), and appointed the first black governor, the first black ambassador, the first black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black Secretary of State, and the first black woman Secretary of State?

Now, which party opposed the Civil War, were pro-slavery, opposed Reconstruction and wrote Jim Crow laws, were pro-segregation, opposed and filibustered the Civil Rights Act, repeatedly plays the race card and has delivered almost nothing (other than entitlements) to Black Americans in exchange for their unquestioned loyalty?


I'll never understand how little actual history (or the long-term future for that matter) matters to people as they live in the here and now. But I do know that if I were black, the record of the Democrats (minus a few very visible Democrat Presidents) would embarrass me and I'd be part of the 10% that votes independently.

Bible Reading

Yesterday after the sermon I suggested a few ways to begin reading your Bible. There are, of course, an infinite number of approaches to this, including "starting on page 1," but not all approaches are created equal.

So, why not start on page 1? In my experience, first time Bible readers who start on page one get bogged down and rarely make it through the first five books. It's not that Genesis and the first part of Exodus aren't a good read (on the contrary, it's down right licentious at certain points) but it's a long narrative with themes that may not readily appreciated by uninformed readers. In contrast, a reader who understands the overall picture of God's plan of redemption goes back and finds endless significance and meaning.

Why not start with the most interesting book, Revelation? I'm actually teaching a class on Revelation right now and one of my main themes is that the reader who is most familiar with the Old Testament is the reader who finds the deepest significance in Revelation. On the other hand, the reader who is mostly ignorant of the Bible's scope and content will be the one most easily confused and misled.

So the general plan for reading the Bible, especially for a new believer or someone who doesn't yet follow Jesus, is to start with Jesus and his Church. Once you've been introduced to ways of Christ, then read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament. Once you are familiar with the themes of the Old Testament, then turn to Revelation and read it in that light.

But where do you start specifically? For the first time you might want to sit down and read Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7. It's Jesus' longest recorded sermon in the Bible and it's very accessible and applicable. I know others have gotten a lot out of reading the entire book of John as their first introduction to Jesus, but I'm sure any of the four Gospels would do.

Another starting place (ignoring the "plan" listed above) is to read a chapter of proverbs each day. There are 31 chapters so just pick the chapter that matches the day of the month.

I've also seen and used some nice reading plans that take you through the Bible in the year. But that always comes down to a matter of discipline. There's no short cut.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I'm good.

I planned a surprise birthday party for Shannon (today was her 30th) and it went off without a hitch. I can't believe she didn't find out! Here's some of what Mrs. Thumper wrote about it:

… I really thought that I would spend my day napping and caring for 4 sick babies. Jared called from church and asked if I was ready for lunch and told me to dress nice. His parents had agreed to watch the boys so we could at least have lunch. I didn't argue. He ran into the house and gave his dad some quick instructions for the boys and off we went. I had planned on going to Longhorn Steakhouse for lunch. It's my favorite. So you can imagine my surprise when he headed off in the wrong direction. He claimed we had reservations. Being the submissive wife that I am I just sat back a drilled him until he pulled into the church's parking lot. I didn't think anything of it. I assumed he just left something there. The parking lot was somewhat full and again, it only being 12:05, I figured people where just taking their time leaving from morning service. The shock began when he asked me to get out and gingerly said, "Come on. You don't want to be late for your own party."

Yes!!! He had planned for almost a month. I couldn't believe my eyes. I walked into a room full of family, friends, and yes, even a white cake with white icing, my name, and pink icing roses. What started out as an exercise in writing became a wish list and my Genie didn't miss a single wish.

It was actually more like five weeks of planning, but who's counting? After the surprise party I took her shopping for the afternoon. I think she had a pretty good day.

Thanks go to Mom, Dad, Sonya, and Dana, and several others who helped. Thank you for making this special for her!

Go KU!

The Jayhawks beat Texas yesterday in the last game of the regular season. This win was special because it was KU's 1900th win (third most in NCAA history; Kentucky has 1926 and North Carolina has 1903). It was also their 50th Conference Championship (more than any other school in the NCAA, though Kentucky has 49); that's 50 titles in 99 years!

This means that KU has the #1 seed in the Big 12 tourney and probably a #1 in the NCAA tourney. And after all of this the fans in Allen Fieldhouse did NOT storm the court. Awesome.

One might also recall that in mid-December people were saying that KU was the second best team in the Kansas… to Wichita State. The Shockers are now 17-14.


On a completely unrelated note: KC Wolf was elected to the Mascot Hall of Fame, class of 2006. I guess congratulations are in order.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Movie Night

Christian films I've seen and recommend:

  • Passion of the Christ (2004) – A survey of Roman Catholic art brought to life. This is worth seeing if you can stomach it. If you want a more historical version of the crucifixion, I highly recommend Matthew (1997), with Bruce Marchiano as perhaps the best Jesus in the most historically (and scripturally) accurate Jesus movie I've ever seen. Remember though, any crucifixion scene worthy of its subject is gut-wrenching to watch.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) – The Narnia books are a cherished favorite of mine which I can't wait to share with my boys. The movie is generally faithful to the famous CS Lewis fantasy story and is worth watching, as long as you read the book first.
  • End of the Spear (2005) – Very well done story of commitment to evangelism, telling the true story of missionaries risking their lives to take the Gospel to native people. However good this story is, I still preferred the documentary on the same subject, Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002).
  • To End All Wars (2001) – not technically a "Christian" film but written by Christians about Christians. This war movie is very well done, so if you're interested in World War 2 Japanese POW/death camps, this movie is a must see. It's the spiritual man's Bridge on the River Kwai.
  • Facing the Giants (2006) – This film snuck up on me. In spite several recommendations, I had no idea how good this movie would be. Not only is it one of the better Christian movies I've ever seen, it's one of the best football movies I've ever seen.
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) – Again, not exactly a "Christian" subject, but written by a Christian with overtly Christian themes and principles throughout the fantasy world JRR Tolkien created. As popular as these movies were, each grossing over a billion dollars, I don't think they can be fully appreciated without reading the books.

Christian films I've not seen yet (recent and upcoming):

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
The Screwtape Letters (2008)
Amazing Grace (2007)
Nativity (2006)
One Night with the King (2006)
Flywheel (2003)

Friday, March 02, 2007

What Mrs. Thumper is Reading

Here's a note from Shannon's myspace page. She writes:

While I was in Joplin my friend Wendy introduced me to an author. Her name is Angela Thomas and she was sent by God for all women. Sound a little extreme? I am happy to say that I am NOT kidding. I am currently reading her book, "Do you think I'm Beautiful." This is a book for everyone that is or ever has been female. Here's an excerpt:

When God looks into the eyes of a woman, He sees all the beauty He created there. He sees every potential and every gift. He can see what can be and redeems what has been. He loves the curly hair you wish were straight. He is taken with your smile and the shape of your nose. He's crazy about big feet and knobby knees and every curve that's particular to you. He is the One who loves the inside and outside of you. You were all his idea and you are physically and emotionally beautiful to Him.

Do you want to dance?Does your soul cry out, "Does anyone see me? Do you think I'm beautiful?" Then hear again Psalm 45:10-11:

Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear;
Forget your people and your father's house.
The King is ENTHRALLED by your beauty;
Honor Him for He is your lord. (emphasis mine)

ENTHRALLED by your beauty. That means captivated, smitten, fascinated, spellbound, and delighted. That's exactly how the prince feel about the princess in fairy tales. But this sentiment is not fiction. Enthralled is how God in heaven feels about you. He is taken with you. Undistracted. Intensely interested. Emotionally connected. He enjoys your laughter and takes pleasure in the way you think. He is not bored with you, and He would never consider you ordinary. There is no way ou will ever go unnoticed with God. You are beautiful to Him. Incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful. When a man feels this way about a woman, we say that he's in love.

Are you hooked? I am and that's just part of one chapter. The longing we feel as women to be protected, cared for, and deeply loved goes unsatisfied because that void isn't meant to be filled by man. This book speaks to the very core of a woman. Please get it today and start reading about the Lover of your Soul.

So Easy A Caveman Could Do It

ABC is planning a sitcom based on an insurance commercial. The Geico caveman is a favorite character of mine, he gets so offended by the stereotyping of cavemen by other people. The satire is obvious, it's not that he's actually hurt by any of this, he's just peeved at it. His real issues are less social and more personal: "It's my mom, I'll put her on speaker phone," he tells his therapist in one commercial. The proposed sitcom would put three of these cavemen in modern day Atlanta, where they would obviously deal with the "racial" issues of living as a caveman in a modern world.

As a counselor and as someone concerned about racial reconciliation, I think laughing about this could go a long way toward everyone getting along. Humor can help us recognize that 1) everyone has in common the "baggage" of life, and 2) we often assume the worst of people who are only superficially different. The only way they could mess this up is if the show became a bash the conservative white guy every week, ignoring the show's own sermons.

I don't know that I'd actually watch the show, as I don't give a lot of time to sitcoms. But you never know, this show could be really insightful and have a lot of heart.

Or not.