Monday, February 22, 2010

More Apologies to Follow...

On Friday, Tiger Woods offered a public apology to the nation for his multiple infidelities.

And as a nation, we pretty much rejected it. “News” commentators immediately set upon the golfer like hungry wolves on a wounded animal:

You idiots! Not that wolf pack!

I'm sorry. I just fired my staff... again. Now give me some real wolves!

That's more like it... reporters... they've smelled blood... Tiger blood...

“Did he sound truly repentant?”
“What did his body language indicate?”
“Who was he really apologizing to?”
“Is it ever okay to end a sentence with a preposition?”

The problem is, we have heard so many apologies recently, from preachers and politicians and pop stars – just to name a few – that we have become cynical.

“They’re just saying that so we will continue to like them.”

Well, d-u-u-u-h-h-h-h-h-h!

But making amends is an important step in the treatment of any addiction, so I’m willing to give Tiger the benefit of the doubt.

He has now completed Step #9. Time to move on.

Unfortunately, since the paparazzi has grown to enormous proportions (talk about obese!), and everyone is now carrying a camera wherever they go (in the form of a cellphone), there will be many more opportunities for people to apologize.

The following have blown in on the Banana Winds just this week:

French Wine Scandal
Growers of the French Pinot Noir grape were found guilty in a French court of selling fake wine to the American winery of E & J Gallo. Claude Courset of the Ducasse wine trading company was among twelve who were convicted of fraud, selling cheaper wines labeled as Pinot Noir to the American wine giant. The Gallo company did not realize the fraud, but the French wine police were paying attention, noticing that the region was exporting a larger than usual amount of the hard-to-grow grape juice.

This is the same oversight commission that busted Georges Duboeuf in 2005 for mixing lesser grapes with the famous gamay grapes that make up the Beaujolais wine; and again in 2007 when the Beaujolais region imported an unusually high quantity of sugar.

You have to give it to the French: the take their wines seriously!

Someone owes us an apology – and I’m thinking it’s E & J Gallo. I’m sure the French are still laughing at the fact that one of our largest wine distributors doesn’t know Pinot Noir from “vin de merde”.

Note: If you are drinking “Red Bicyclette 2006” or earlier, the joke’s on you!

Sir Elton John
Last week, Sir Elton told Parade magazine, "I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems… On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East -- you're as good as dead."

I’m thinking Pat Robertson will probably condemn Sir Elton in the days to come, for making a pact with the devil. How else can you explain the duck costume?

Perhaps a pact with Disney?

Someone owes us an apology – but it’s not Sir Elton. It is truly unfortunate that from his perspective, only gay men are compassionate, forgiving, and caring; therefore, Jesus must have been gay. Time for straight males to apologize and start living out the life that Jesus calls us to live.

Australian Sportscasters
Two unnamed Australian sportscasters have been roundly criticized for making on-air comments about American figure-skater Johnny Weir, suggesting that he should perhaps take a gender test to determine in which part of the competition he should compete.

Here no apology is necessary. The sportscasters should be fired outright and black-balled from television and radio broadcasts for life.

Scotty Lago
In the Olympics half-pipe competition last week, Scotty Lago did this to win a bronze medal:

Afterwards, the 22-year-old celebrated like this:

In actual fact, she is kissing his medal, which, for some inexplicable reason, appears to be slung about his waist.

But someone at the party snapped a quick photo, put it on the internet, and almost as fast as he won his bronze medal, he was humiliated around the world.

Of course, he apologized to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, and left Vancouver in shame.

I remember what it was like to be 22 years old...

Actually, no, I don’t. I’d like to think so, but that was a long time ago. A lot of margaritas have gone under the bridge since then.

So those of you who would criticize Scotty, try to imagine what it is like to be 22 years old and a sudden international sensation. Wouldn’t you party like it’s 1999?

What? What year is it? Damn, I’m old!

Oops. I'm sorry.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

News from Margaritaville

Thanks to a tip posted by Hula over at Growing Older But Not Up, I scored tickets for the upcoming Jimmy Buffett Concert in Nashville on May 1st!

Woo Hoo!
* * *
In other Margaritaville news, Jimmy is opening a "Margaritaville" in Nashville! The concept is still on the table, but it will be located at the corner of 4th and Broadway, near Ryman Auditorium. As one might expect of Nashville, the restaurant will lean more heavily on Jimmy's country roots (think "License to Chill"), but there will be a "Tiki Room" for private parties and a "Cowboy in the Jungle" bar. Sounds like fun!
* * *
Finally, don't forget:
Monday, February 22
National Margarita Day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Enough with the apologies!

Last week in politics, a firestorm was ignited by the failed-Republican-vice-presidential-candidate-turned-FoxTV-spokes-model, Sarah Palin. Tipped off by a concerned parent, Palin took issue with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s use of the word “retarded”.

On her Facebook page, Palin scolded Emanuel: “Just as if we’d be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the ‘N-word’ or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities – and the people who love them – is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.”

She called for President Obama to fire his Chief of Staff, and when it became apparent that the President was not going to cave in to her whim, she called for Emanuel’s resignation.

That’s not going to happen either.

However, Emanuel has strategically met with Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, as well as dozens of other leaders and advocates for people with developmental disabilities, and has apologized.

Meh! Another apology. I get so sick of them.

I say something. Your feelings get hurt. I have to (publicly) apologize. It happens way too often in Washington.

“You’re fat.”

“Boo hoo! You hurt my feelings. Now apologize.”

“Okay, I’m sorry you’re fat.”

Pay attention here:

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
If you do mean it, don’t apologize for it.

It’s as simple as that.

What about this word “retarded”? It’s a perfectly good word. I looked it up in a dictionary -- you know, that big book with all them words in it! 

“To retard” is “to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.”

For example, pesticides retard the growth of weeds. An adjustment made to a car’s distributor can retard the spark for ignition. Children’s pajamas contain “flame retardant”. In music, one “retards” to slow down the tempo.

The word becomes a problem, however, when used as slang, too often used referring to a person who is mentally or physically delayed. Then it becomes hurtful.

Sarah Palin is obviously sensitive to the use of the word “retarded” because she has a child born with Downs’ Syndrome. Although I don't like Sarah as a politician, I am sympathetic to the Palins and to all parents of special-needs children everywhere.

But wait a minute. Did Rahm Emanuel actually call someone “retarded”? Because that WOULD be insensitive, and we SHOULD be outraged.

No, in fact, Emanuel’s use of the word was in reference to an idea, a very bad idea, an idea that would "hinder progress".

Here's what happened: In a “behind-closed-doors” meeting with liberal Democratic leaders, the idea was proposed to run attack ads against the more-conservative Democrats who do not support the President’s health care reform. In a moment of exasperation, the Chief of Staff stated the obvious, that the plan was “f***ing retarded”.

Funny, no one has a problem with him saying "F***ing".

"Oh, that Rahm, he's such a potty-mouth!"
"He curses like a Chicago truck driver!"
"Isn't he cute?"

Note that Emanuel did not call those proposing the plan “retarded”. He did not say the plan was “as retarded as Sarah Palin’s son”, "as retarded as Special Olympics", or even “as retarded as Sarah Palin”. It was not a personal attack, nor was it intended as a slur against any person or group of people. It was about the plan. And the plan, as proposed, was… well…

Okay, he could have said something like “Stupid”.

But then again, a few years ago, I was chastised by a group of 4-year-olds for using the word “stupid”.

It slipped out during a children’s sermon. The eyes of the children grew big, like I had just swallowed a big, giant, hairy spider! When I asked what was wrong, they told me, “You said a bad word!”

My mind raced to recall what profanity had inadvertently escaped my lips. With the permission of her teacher, one child finally told me, “You said ‘stupid’.”

Whew. What a relief!

But like Rahm Emanuel, I wasn’t referring to a person. I was referring to an idea.

But 4-year-olds aren't yet mentally developed to where they can make that distinction.

Apparently neither is Sarah Palin.

Does that make her retarded?

Another funny thing: when Rush Limbaugh picked up on all this, he specifically and intentionally called the Democratic leaders “retards”, repeatedly using the derogative in the very worst sense of the word. Yet Palin laughed that off as “satire”.

Oh, Rush, you are so very, very funny…

How about this: the Chief of Staff could have opened his Bible and calmly read to them the words of Jesus: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

That’s what it’s all about. Our nation IS divided. And in trouble. Yet now some in Washington want to intentionally (further) divide the President’s political party… thier own party!... the party in power… with a majority in Congress...

And that’s just “f***ing… stupid”.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Breaking News: Hell Freezes Over!

Last night the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV! It was a great game!

Especially because the Saints won!

But then this morning, we awoke to a beautiful sight: 3-5" of snow on the ground and more falling!

At some point during the night, apparently Hell froze over!

But that's okay! The snow gives me an excuse to close the church office. And after a long, hard weekend -- with three church members in three different hospitals, all in ICU -- I needed a day off.

So today I am updating my blog, catching up on news I haven't been able to read all weekend, and resting up in preparation for what will follow when the snow melts.

Here are some photos from last night -- all swiped from various sources -- so you can relive the joy!


QB and MVP Drew Brees with the Vince Lombardi Trophy

Coach Sean Payton hoists the trophy

Saints Owner Tom Benson holding tomorrow's Times-Picayune front page

The worst Half-Time Show in Super Bowl history

Bourbon Street after the game

And, yes, world-champion cheerleaders!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Preview #2

Okay, you might have guessed when I named the previous post “Preview #1” that more would follow before the Big Game. Well, as is sometimes the case in the ministry, other matters took precedent to writing blog posts. So here we are, the day before the big game. Time for one more preview.

The half-time show.

I know the networks have been nervous about the Super Bowl half-time show since the infamous “wardrobe malfunction”.

To be honest, while it could have been prevented, little peek-a-boos like that happen by accident all the time. On that particular night, it happened so fast only those who recorded the show were able to slow it down long enough to recognize human flesh.

So if the press hadn’t blown it so out of proportion, we might still have a decent offering for the Super Bowl half-time.

But seriously… The Who?!?

For those of you not old enough to remember, The Who was part of the British invasion of the 1960s. Roger Daltry, John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Pete Townshend put on a great show. They performed at Woodstock.

Remember Woodstock?

They created the first Rock Opera, “Tommy” (1969), which was made into one of my favorite movies in 1975. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Do the math, kiddies: that was 20 years ago!

But Keith Moon died in 1978, and John Entwistle in 2002. Which leaves these two.


...and now.

So we get half of The Who, which at their age is probably now “The What?”

“Speak up, Sonny! I used to be a rock ‘n roll star!”

[Point of Full Disclosure: I am going to see Roger Daltry next month, who is currently touring with Eric Clapton in what I suspect will be a much more sedate concert than in their hayday.]

Funny thing is, neither of them know much about American football; Daltry says he’s never even been to an NFL game.

That seems downright un-American!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Preview #1

On Sunday, my New Orleans Saints will make their first ever appearance in the Super Bowl, playing against the long-dominant Indianapolis Colts. We plan to gather with friends and watch the game on a television screen larger than my office!

Go Saints!

Of course, you might imagine my disappointment that the stadium in Miami where the game will be played is no longer called “Landshark Stadium”… apparently Jimmy Buffett’s deal didn’t include the post-season!


In previous years (when the Saints were not playing) the really fun part of watching the Super Bowl – besides the food and fellowship – was the commercials. You know, most of the time we watched the commercials and THEN got up to get another beer!

But this year will be different. Did I mention my Saints are playing in the Super Bowl?

Go Saints!

So you can bet I will be watching the game – watching the Saints defensive line to break through and sack Peyton Manning, watching Drew Brees throw a steady stream of touchdown passes. We might even see a little action from Reggie Bush. I’ll stay to the end, just so I won’t miss the Saints’ game-winning touchdown. And I’ll hang around a little longer afterwards to do a little victory dance as Colts fans file out disappointed.

But the real difference this year will be the commercials. Budweiser used to spend a fortune on new and creative ads. This year they’ve purchased 5 minutes of air time, but don’t look for the Clydsdales; they’re not using them. Danica Patrick will titilate us again for (I still don’t know what that company does!), but there won’t be any VS Angels to ogle. Pepsi bailed out of sponsorship too (no Britney commercials this year), leaving the door open for Coke and Dr. Pepper. And since GM has fallen on hard times, Dodge will represent the U.S. auto market, with VW and Subaru butting in.

And then there is the much-ballyhoo’d anti-abortion ad from Focus on the Family. What a downer that will be!

Oh, sure, there’s a football connection in Tim Tebow, the star quarterback for Univ. of Florida and the star of the commercial. Here’s the story:

According to “The Legend of Tim Tebow”, Bob and Pam Tebow were serving as missionaries in the Philippines when Pam contracted a life-threatening illness and lapsed into a coma. Pregnant at the time, doctors nonetheless gave her drugs that saved her life but threatened the growing fetus.

As this heart-wrenching story unfolds… when she came out of the coma the doctors attending her recommended to Bob and Pam that she should have an abortion. Pam courageously refused – she doesn’t believe in abortions – and little Tim was born, miraculously healthy and headed to an equally miraculous college football career.

Pam Tebow has told this story over and over again for the past 23 years. Many people have been encouraged by it, have been given hope, have opted for life.

Go Saints!

And that’s what Focus on the Family wants you to hear in its Super Bowl commercial on Sunday.

And it’s not a bad message… if it were true.

The sticking point is that abortions were outlawed in the Philippines in 1930. The law is strict and without exception: any woman who has an abortion faces mandatory imprisonment, and anyone assisting a woman to have an abortion will also face mandatory imprisonment. Concerns for the life of the mother are not taken into consideration.

The Roman Catholic Church, which wields considerable influence in the island nation, has made sure this law stands.

Go Saints!

Yes, abortions still happen in the Philippines, to the tune of about 400,000 per year (maybe less now that the U.S. Navy base there has closed). But these are done by unlicensed physicians in dark alleys, or self-induced with home-remedies. Approximately 20% of these end with hospitalization, and another 12% end in death.

That’s what happens when abortions are outlawed.

But since the law in the Philippines has for the last 80 years mandated imprisonment for a woman having an abortion or for the doctor who provides such, how is it that this Christian missionary was offered an abortion by her doctors in 1987?

And how is it considered “courageous” that Bob and Pam simply abided by the law of the land?

Sure, one could argue that the missionary couple could have flown back to the U.S. for a legal abortion. But take a moment and try this little experiment: Call your denomination’s Mission Board and tell them you need airfare for a trip from your mission assigment to the U.S. to have an abortion. How do you see that conversation playing out?

It seems Pam Tebow did not simply “choose life”. Her “choice” was to stay out of a Philippines prison.

It’s just fortunate for her that everything worked out.

Not everyone is so lucky.

Go Saints!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Life of Leaders

Last week I joined with 11 other clergy persons in the first stage of a pilot project for our annual conference called “Life of Leaders”. A similar group went through this two weeks earlier.

A joint venture between Methodist Healthcare, The Church Health Center and the Memphis Conference Wellness Commission, “Life of Leaders” is more than just a physical exam. It is a pooling together of health, fitness, nutrition and wellness professionals all focused on creating new habits for us that will foster better health.

And the truth is, most of us preacher-types could use some better health habits!

“Life of Leaders” begins with an executive physical exam, conducted by the staff of Church Health Center. We were given blood tests, EKGs, lung X-rays, and the usual physical workup.

A similar experience was found in the former “Pastor’s Clinic” – although that was much more clinical – after which my physician pronounced me “the picture of perfect health.”

Now that’s funny!

My physician this time did not make the same mistake, but all the numbers and tests show I am well within the normal parameters for a person my age.

The only point of concern is my weight, which, at 205 lbs. puts me in the “obese” category.
(No, this is not me... but I suppose it could be one day...)

But seriously, yes, I’m 30+ lbs. over my “ideal” weight and with a BMI of 31, I fall into a danger zone. I would like to drop 10 or so pounds, but I don’t realistically see myself getting back to 175… or even 145, as the chart suggests.

Jeez! I haven’t weighed 145 since I was 25!

But Life of Leaders is not just a physical exam. In addition to the tests, we were also given access to professionals at the Church Health Center’s Hope and Healing Center in areas of nutrition, health and fitness, who gave us helpful information custom tailored to our specific situation. We were also linked up with a counselor who will serve as a Life Coach throughout the year-long process.

We also got a 20-minute chair massage!

If nothing else, the experience has given me a greater understanding of and appreciation for the Church Health Center. Scott Morris and everyone there do a great job of leading a health ministry in the heart of Memphis.

And, yes, we were given (yet another) pedometer. This one is related to “The Amazing Pace” program. But this one is high-tech. We are supposed to sync regularly with a computer program, which will track our daily steps and show us how our “team” is doing.

After a week of use, I have found that I walk between 3,000-5,000 steps per day under normal circumstances. The idea is to show progress.

I have not yet taken it to the gym with me…

The next step will be to gather in March to discuss “Leading Causes of Life” with Gary Gunderson.

The bottom line for me, and for our annual conference Wellness Commission, is that if we can adopt healthier habits earlier in life, when we get older we will be healthier and won’t be such a drain on the conference insurance program.

Remember the words of Ben Franklin:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

He also advised, “Eat to live, not live to eat.”

And, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Well, two out of three ain’t bad!

(He looks happy, doesn't he!)