On Brotherhood, Inside Jokes and Built-In Best Friends For Life

Michael: What comes before anything? What have we always said is the most important thing?

George Michael: Breakfast.

Michael: Family.

George Michael: Family, right. I thought you meant of the things you eat.

 

Last Saturday night, as the clock struck 11:00 PM in Chicago, meaning it was midnight in South Carolina, I posted seemingly random lyrics of a 1990s Blackhawk song called “Postmarked Birmingham” to my brother Jeremy’s Facebook wall. The following morning, I texted him different lyrics from the same song. He was not confused by any of this, because it is sort of a tradition between us. The reason it wasn’t random is that the song, which is about a man who gets a letter from a woman who left him and he has no idea why she’s writing from Alabama, mentions the date April 22. So every year on that date, we share a childhood memory, a song we bonded over. And also of the CD that I desecrated by listening to before giving it to him as a Christmas gift. Which he will never let me live down.

I love inside jokes. I realize they are annoying if you’re on the outside so I try to keep them to a minimum in public. And while I share them with all sorts of people in my life, there is no doubt that the deepest versions I have are the ones that I share with those who were there every step of the way from the time I was old enough to have memories until the day I departed for college in Nashville: my four siblings.

Quite often when my brothers Jeremy, Ashley and I are texting, if two of us disagree about something, the third one will reply, “I’m with you fellas”. Because we have laughed together at O Brother Where Art Thou? several times together. (Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a disagreement and it just gets worked in the conversation anyway.) Similar are the phrases “Seven Bushes” and “No more questions” from My Cousin Vinny. And I’m pretty sure when each of us turned 33 years old, one of the other two was there to text, “Today…he is…33 years old!” from Three Amigos.

It’s not all TV and movies either. When we were very young, I once chased Jeremy through the house, angry at him. When we got to our bedroom he fell down so hard the whole house shook. He was completely still for a few seconds and I was terrified he was seriously hurt. Then he finally peeked at me and piped up, “I shook the whole house!” And I can still text him those words today and we laugh about it. On another occasion, Ashley and I were playing basketball with some friends and an older guy we knew, who was clearly out of shape, stepped on the court and said, “Let’s see if I can still get rim.” He clearly couldn’t and probably never could, which made the scene quite unintentionally funny. And so this quote has come up during basketball many times. And then there was the time in the 80s we were eating at our family’s favorite seafood buffet and another group got seated just after us. And one of the men boisterously and half-jokingly complained to the hostess, “We’re six miles from the buffet!” Except he said “buffet” the way it looks phonetically. That comes up every time we eat seafood even now.

My brother Tracy is ten years older than me and was in college by the time I was in third grade but we still share these moments. Over 20 years ago at the beach were staying in an oceanfront house. And an older lady was out sunbathing just in front, really close to us. As we stood there on the second-floor porch, Tracy dared me $5 to hit her with a tennis ball. I obviously declined. But later when the ball really did fall from the porch and I had to go down to get it, I threw it back up to Tracy and it hit the ledge of the porch, ricocheted back towards the ground and hit the woman, who for some reason got really mad about it. Tracy gave me the $5 and we still laugh about it in 2018.

My sister, Kim, is the only sister but we still have our inside jokes, too. Once, not long after she got married I was hanging out at her house. She needed some meat from her freezer, which was in a separate storage room off of the house. I went out to get it and there were wasps. Being terrified of them I reported back with no meat. Kim, who is also terrified of them, decided the situation called for desperate measures. We put on raincoats and hats and gloves–basically, we covered every part of our bodies–and armed ourselves with brooms and mops. And we successfully procured the meat. And Kim loves telling that story to this day.

Another time we were sharing a room at the National Free Will Baptist Convention with her husband Mark and their daughter Camille. Kim bought three 24-count bags of sugar donuts for the week. At the end of the week, they were all gone. Camille claimed to have eaten zero. Mark said he had about six. So that meant between Kim and I, we ate approximately 66 sugar donuts in four days. We agreed to assume we both ate 33 so no one had to take the blame for eating the most. And to this day, we can’t talk about sugar donuts without laughing.

All inside jokes are not funny, though. Some are extremely meaningful in a more serious way. A few years ago when I was home for Christmas, Jeremy introduced me to a song that was a “Stopped Me In My Tracks” song for him, as Phill wrote about for REO. He had me listen to it. And after hearing it, he and I made a vow that any time one of us hears “Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band, we will pray for the other one. We text each other that title every now and then to remind each other of our vow. Jeremy even eventually made the song his ring tone so he would pray for me often.

The picture from above is from the 2013 Outback Bowl when Jadaveon Clowney knocked the Michigan RB’s helmet off on a spectacular play that has been viewed millions of times on Youtube. The Gamecocks won the game on a Steve Spurrier drawn up and dialed up bomb with 11 second left. But neither of those plays were what made the day truly special. It was getting to share those moments with my brothers and my dad. I don’t remember it but after Clowney made the hit and forced the fumble, Ashley says that I said, “Who was that guy?!?” As if it was to say that it was so amazing I had to ask, even though I knew. Like responding to a superhero moment. It was a special time to relive over and over.

 

When I got married in 2015, Ashley gave one of the best men speeches and said our mother always told us when we were fighting as children that our siblings would be our best friends when we were adults. She was right. Boy, was she ever right. Because Kim, Tracy, Ashley and Jeremy absolutely know what I think of them. That no matter what happens, or how far from South Carolina I am, that, “I’m with you fellas”. They truly are my best friends for life.

 

 

 

 




Five Ways to Wage War on the Ego

“He must [by the very nature of things] increase, but I must decrease.” (John the Baptist)

 

One of the most clever things I’ve read in any fiction work is in The Screwtape Letters with the uncle advising the nephew to get his Christian to realize he’s being humble because then – voilà! – he’s automatically prideful. Countless Christians I’ve spoken to have picked up on this irony in joke form by declaring, as if they are the first to ever do so, “I’m so proud of my humility!”

I start with that because I fully confess that by sharing thoughts about how not to be prideful that when people put them into practice, they can absolutely be proud of their effort and ruin the whole thing. Humility and pride are so unique and tricky that way.

So no, I’m not trying to advocate ways to appear humble while you get a big head in your heart of hearts. But the Bible at various times and in various ways tells us to be humble. So I think a strategy is prudent. Here are five to consider:

 

1. Keep your good deeds private

I have spoken to this one before. Yet Facebook is such a constant assault on this, I find myself wanting to shout this from the rooftops. Making your good deeds known to others can be (and probably is) in direct violation of Jesus’ command to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Yet on social media, we act like this isn’t an issue. We brag about something we accomplished, the likes and affirmations come pouring in and it all seems like a normal part of our culture.

Granted, I will not cast stones on this because I have learned, like others, how to creatively do it where it doesn’t look like bragging. Just post a picture of some great deed you are doing. People love pictures, right? Then you don’t have to brag with words. But people still know how great you are. Yes, I’ve been there.

Until we get to the place where we are secure enough in our identity as a servant of Christ who works for an audience of one, we will live in direct disobedience to Christ’s command to keep our good works private. Especially on social media.  And myself included.

 

2. Overwhelm complaining with thanksgiving

Here is one I really struggle with. My wife and closest friends will confirm this. Everyone on Twitter is an idiot. Our extended Winter this year is just the worst. Chicago traffic turns me into an ogre of rage and criticism. Even the woman who leads the workout videos my wife does is not safe from my ire, even though she is a successful woman, in much better shape than me, and doesn’t deserve my insults.

It’s all an ugly manifestation of how proud I am. Because I’m either only thinking of myself or I’m putting myself above others. By contrast, outside of November, my attitude of thankfulness is anemic. Yet of the two things, only one is commanded as something we are to do in all circumstances.

Criticism is at times warranted in Christianity. And we all need to vent at times. I am not advocating to avoid it completely. I just think some of us could stand to have our comments and actions of thanksgiving outnumber our complaints and insults about 10 to 1, or some similar percentage. Maybe getting specific will help: Trying to open our day by thanking for ten straight minutes or by handwriting thank you notes often or by showing a person how thankful you are with a simple gesture. It will choke our pride at a very sensitive point.

 

3.  Associate with people who know more than you

The Bible warns that knowledge puffs us up. This can be seen so clearly when people attend college or grad school or seminary, or even when they are educated in any way on any subject. If we are knowledgeable in some way and proud as a result, it makes sense to me that exposure to those who know more than we do will help keep us in a more sober and humble state of mind.

A few years ago I began studying textual criticism, the art-science of trying to scour through nearly 6,000 Greek manuscripts and countless other sources to determine the original wording of the New Testament books. I have learned quite a bit about it. But I also belong to a Facebook page on the topic, where some of the world’s foremost experts post. And I have to admit: they can talk circles around me and some have written hundreds and hundreds of pages on it. And some of what they say in their books I do not understand.

It is similar with the languages and cultures around us. I have little doubt it is easy to get frustrated with how other people think and behave and what language they speak when it is different from ours because it annoys us. But God taught me a few years ago that exposure to and appreciation for what I don’t know keeps me from being proud of what I do. So when people speak Russian on the Chicago bus, by God’s grace I hope this reminder of how big the world is and how small my knowledge is will keep me humble.

 

4. Associate with people who have less than you

I have also written about this before, but Jesus once taught to throw parties for the crippled and blind instead of for your own family and friends. In that same chapter, Jesus talks about people making excuses as to why they cannot follow him and then concludes the chapter by saying that if anyone wants to follow him they have to forsake everything. What I take from that is that our richness in material possessions and relationship cause us to forget how badly we need God. And the antidote is to rub shoulders with people who do not have much in the way of material possessions and relationship.

Why? Because part of our social makeup as humans is to become like whoever we are closest to. This is why my dad always told me “You are who your friends are.” And so I think Jesus wants us to learn humility from those who live humbly by little to no choice in the matter.

 

5. Daily choose forgiveness over bitterness and vindication.

This one is crucial because it is a potent weapon against the “proud of your humility” threat. If you are forgiving because of how much Christ forgave you, as he taught in Matthew 18:21-35 and other places, then you are not confused by how bad a person you are. And yet you are not wallowing in your sinfulness but being proactive in trying to live out the grace that has been given.

Bitterness and vindication are the opposite. They take no account of how bad we as the victim are and do nothing productive or proactive in living out grace or mercy. Retaliating also manifests a spirit that trusts self over God, who vows that revenge only belongs to him.

To be clear, when a person is wronged in the worst ways, I will be careful (especially soon after the event) in counseling them on how and when to forgive. Yet, in reading stories like Joseph in Genesis and Corrie Ten Boom in more modern times, I think there is an authority in their words to teach that even those abused in the worst ways can forgive by the grace of the Christian God. And the worst act of injustice in human history – an innocent man being humiliated, tortured and killed for the very people who killed him – is the message and heart of this humble way of living.

So by trying to live out biblical forgiveness daily (which is indeed more a process than an event in my experience because I often think “I forgive that person” and then the memories come back one day and I have to do it again) I will disintegrate my ego. Because I can’t think on and react to God’s grace and be proud at the same time. And by forgiving because I’ve been forgiven, that is what I am doing.

 

What do you think? Comments are welcomed below.

 




500WoL Reviews: “Tyndale, The Man Who Gave God An English Voice”

“And the Lyght shyneth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 4:5, William Tyndale New Testament) 

 

I’m coming up on 40 years of life this Summer and it has me all self-reflective and evaluative. One thing I absolutely need to change is that I need to read more biographies. As someone who has championed fantasy-fiction as reading that captures the imagination, I have woefully underestimated how real flesh and blood human beings with real lives can accomplish the same thing. And in some ways, in a deeper sense, since they are actual history.

Enter this book, written in 2012 by David Teems. It is cleverly written, packed with history down to the small players in Tyndale’s life and absolutely edifies the English-speaking Christian reader with a life worth dissecting.

I confess that Tyndale’s life is fascinating to me on the big story arcs because I am a pastor of a bilingual ministry, an ESL teacher and a subscriber to Voice of the Martyrs. Translation is my life’s work, though not nearly to the significance that his was and to the cost that his gave. Persecution and martyrdom are horrific in a human sense, yet biblically we can see how God exalts it. William Tyndale literally gave his life to give people of my native tongue one of the most precious gifts there is, the readable Word of God.

Christian history is indebted to countless people for the Bibles we have today, many of them nameless and faceless, like the Masoretics of the Old Testament and the often maligned scribes and copyists of the New Testament. Tyndale thankfully is a name we can know and celebrate. He wasn’t just a translator. He was a noble man, an educated yet humble man, and a great man. He is a hero. All of us who hold a KJV, or NASB, or NIV in our hands should know his name and his story.

Beyond the major and more well-known plot lines of his life, Teems gives other details that are equally as important. Like how much of the KJV was influenced by Tyndale and how many phrases we find in our Bible, and hence our popular culture, that can be traced back to Tyndale. Like “Am I my brother’s keeper?”. Tyndale used beautiful, easy-to-memorize, poetic English. And we owe our ability to recall many verses so easily to him.

Teems also speaks over several pages to how much Erasmus and Luther affected Tyndale and how much he affected them. These men were not friends, yet God used them all in their own way to greatly affect how we do church and bible study today. It is a testimony to how no one can do anything on their own. Not just without God’s grace, but without Christian community. Even from a distance.

I recommend this book to all Christian teenagers and adults. It’s not just an inspiring story, but an illuminating one.  In 500 years, this story will still matter. Yet let us read it today.




Lights, Camera, No Action! Five Non-Conventional Science Fiction Films

The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines Science Fiction as “a form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals.” That is an adequate definition but it falls far short of describing the kind of impact sci-fi stories have had. From its very inception, science fiction has endeavored to challenge, to provoke, and to inspire, and sci-fi films have been at the forefront of that movement. There are the classics of the genre: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Star Trek. Alien. While sci-fi has never been confined to one style, many people think of action films when they talk about sci-fi. Star Wars (not science fiction, for what it is worth), Avatar, The Terminator. No doubt there is a place for high energy, fast-paced, action-oriented sci-fi films. Yet the root of the genre is in stories and ideas. For today’s Five, we want to focus on a handful of sci-fi films that do more than just entertain. Enjoy and be sure to tell us about your favorites in the comment section below.[1. Click the Title of each film to be taken to Amazon for the option to purchase the films and a portion of that purchase will go to supporting REO.]


Primer

I have a particular weakness for time travel shows and movies. That is why while I might experience some fatigue or get bored with other types of popular genres,  I always, always love anything involving time travel. Anything. And the best of the genre, the most thought-provoking, the most complex that I have seen is Primer (2009). Let me say right here that this movie is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people will just find it incredibly boring and overly tedious. And it certainly isn’t flashy, being made for only $7,000. If you are a movie viewer whose primary goal is watching a movie with lots of action and a fast-moving plot that lets you turn off your brain, Primer is not for you. However, if you love a movie that really challenges your mind, Primer is the time travel movie for you without a doubt.

There is so much complexity going on with this movie that I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t get it all the first time through. Maybe not even the tenth. There are several good discussions online to help people who have viewed it to better understand it. The emphasis in that last sentence in on “who have viewed it.” Many of these places obviously have spoilers, so watch it through once or a few times before visiting any of these places. You might also want to try figuring it out for yourself first. (Benjamin Plunkett)


Gattaca

Genetic perfection? DNA manipulation? What once only seemed possible in the world of science fiction is almost a reality. Before that though, writer and director Andrew Niccol gave us a film that exhibited the true power of the sci-fi genre. Gattaca is smart, stylish, and full of symbolism and spiritual questions. The story takes place in a world where genetic tinkering allows parents to choose the best version of themselves to pass on to their children. Babies “created” this way have a massive advantage over babies conceived in the old-fashioned manner. This is where we meet the protagonist, Vincent Freeman, whose only dream has been to reach for the stars and become an astronaut. That path is closed to him due to his genetic inferiority. His hero’s journey is one of impressive willpower, unmatched determination, and a little help from a few outside sources.

Niccol envisions the world as both futuristic and retro, maintaining an elegance throughout. All the actors do good work, but Ethan Hawke and Jude Law give career best performances. And to this day, the musical score is one of my favorites. Gattaca checks all my boxes for what I love about the genre. (Phill Lytle)


Moon

Moon

Back in June of 2009, Moon quietly released with a limited showing in America, earning a paltry $136,046 on its opening weekend. Word quickly spread of just how good of a movie it was, and by November of that year, it had earned over $5,000,000. My brother-in-law went to see the film at an independent theater at the time and told me that I needed to go see it, but I just never got around to it. Moon even made a few appearances on Netflix in the past, but I always missed out…until its most recent arrival.

The main actor, Sam Rockwell, does a fantastic job exploring the loneliness and frustration that might come with an extended stay on the Moon, where he is serving out a period of time harvesting solar energy for Earth. His character is completely isolated from the rest of humanity, and watching him develop as his grip on reality starts to come unraveled is an unsettling, interesting experience. The robot GERTY, voiced by (now-disgraced actor) Kevin Spacey, adds to the sense of loneliness you feel for Rockwell’s character as you see the robot’s faltering attempts to imitate human emotion and touch.

Watching the film now, almost 9 years after its release, is a bit of an odd experience. Other space survival films (The Martian, Interstellar, etc.) have since borrowed or re-imagined some of the same scenarios, so it’s that much harder to isolate and imagine how the film would have been taken at release. Overall the plot and progression are spot on, along with the soundtrack. If you’re interested in sci-fi at all, be sure not to pass this one up before it leaves Netflix again.  (D.A. Speer)


The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

 

Brad Bird is one of the best directors working today and this early animated film is a perfect example of his particular talents. This is a story that if handled by less skilled hands would feel clumsy or derivative. We know this story. It feels like it is a part of our cultural DNA. Small town. Curious child protagonist. Existential fear of some foreign nation – the USSR in this case. And finally, the unlikely friendship that is the backbone of the plot. Our child hero – Hogarth – befriends a giant robot that has crashed near his home. It’s a fish-out-of-water story, a buddy film, and a mystery story all rolled into one. The animation is simple and elegant. The music is rich and full of strong themes. The script is crisp, funny, and poignant. All the voice actors do great work, even Jennifer Aniston. For my money, there are very few animated films that are better. The Iron Giant towers over the competition, not with flashy action or choreographed fights, but with strong characters, a compelling story, and a deeply emotional climax. (Phill Lytle)


Signs

Signs

Every once in a while a movie comes along that transcends entertainment and becomes a piece of art that creates deep conversation and makes a difference in real life. M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs was that for me and my closest friends. It impacted me in such a way that I showed a clip of it before a sermon I preached in 2003: the conversation between Graham and Merrill about whether or not there are “signs” of God. Amazing conversation between two A-list actors. Exceptional mood setting, lighting, and general cinematography as well. The double meaning of the movie’s title brought life to that sermon and hours of conversation to my church friends.

The movie is not scary as much as it is riveting and spooky and thrilling. In his review of the movie, the late Roger Ebert said, “Shyamalan doesn’t want to blow up the world; he wants to blow our minds.” I think that says it well. Much of the movie is subtle and building. It’s not a flashy film. And this makes the intense parts even more effective, as when Merrill sees the alien on the TV footage. Complete with plenty of laughs (actual tin foil hats, anyone?) and touching moments (Graham telling his children about how they were born when he thinks they are going to die), it is a suburb blend of all the right emtions. But more than anything this movie rises and falls on the writing and direction of Shyamalan in colliding a world of the wrecked faith of a former clergyman and the classic movie trope of invading aliens. And he knocks it slam out of the park like Merrill’s 587 foot HR. (Gowdy Cannon)

 




Man Now Unable to Tell Difference Between Satire and Real News

CHICAGO, IL—Local ESL teacher Gowdy Cannon today confirmed that he no longer can distinguish between satire articles and actual news articles on his Facebook feed.

Cannon, 39 and also an associate pastor of a Bel-Cragin area Baptist church, commented, “Yeah, I give up. I saw a headline the other day about a couple getting married with AR-15s at the service. And I thought, ‘Those rascals at Babylon Bee or The Onion have really outdone themselves this time!’ But turns out, it was true. Then, I saw where Trump had blamed Obama for the stock market plunging one day, complete with a tweet by Trump with phrases like ‘Not good!’ and I thought, ‘Yep, that sounds about right.’  Turns out, it was a Bee article. I have no idea anymore.”

Sources close to Cannon at the website he writes for, Rambling Ever On, have also verified that he has thrown in the towel. “I mean, if Snopes is so clueless they are fact checking Babylon Bee,” commented Phill Lytle, “I am not sure I blame Gowdy for his stance.”

“He had been teetering for a while,” commented Ben Plunkett. “Recently the Bee had an article on how Kamala Harris stopped briefly at a gun violence protest on her way to a pro-abortion rally and Gowdy was like, ‘That’s barely satire! That could totally be real!’ Juxtapose that with how incredulous he was when he found out last July that Trump’s tweeting a video of himself slamming a chair into CNN wasn’t fake and you can see how this thousand mile journey had quite a few steps.”

It is also being reported by Cannon’s wife Kayla that he reluctantly has stopped getting any news from social media for this reason but also so he can focus more time on his March Madness tournaments.

 

 




Five Movie Moments That Made Me Literally ROTFL

In recent months I have written for REO about Five TV Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry, Five TV Moments That Made Me Literally ROTFL and Five Movie Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry. So the next logical step in this series is what we have today.

Five times I was watching a movie and ended up on the theater floor laughing. Yes, it’s happened five times. It’s actually happened 20 times and probably 20 more at home watching on my couch. I’m just wired to lose it laughing. The acronym ROTFL was made for people like me. So here’s the culpable list:

 

The Movie: “Dumb and Dumber” (1994)

The Moment: The Snowball Fight 

I have never ever laughed at a movie like this one and have always said I watched it in the theater twice because I missed about 40% of it the first time laughing so hard. And I doubt there is a stretch of even three minutes in this movie where I don’t laugh. But two scenes caused the fall out the chair laugh. One can be endearingly termed “The bathroom scene”. What can I say? I was 16 years old at the time and nearly 25 years later I still find it hilarious. The other was when Mary goes on her date with Harry and playfully throws some snow at him and he responds by rearing back and pelting her with a snowball so fierce it knocks her to the ground. I don’t think there was a single person in the theater that didn’t laugh and many, like me, were literally rolling.

Four years after this movie was released, and multiple viewings later, I was watching it in my college dorm with a handful of guys who had to stay on campus an extra day or two at Christmas for work. And when we got to this scene we kept having to rewind it because we all kept losing it and we could not continue until we all got it together. What a moment. Jim Carrey had most of the best one-liners (“Tic-tac, sir?”) but Jeff Daniels had the best scenes. Admire the acting as his face subtly changes from playful to menacing…

 

The Movie: “My Cousin Vinny” (1992) 

The Moment: The Public Defender vs. Mr. Tipton 

This is truly one of the great Joe Pesci performances and Marissa Tomei won an Oscar for this movie (as verified by Seinfeld), yet Austin Pendleton has by far the laugh of the movie to me and my family.

Stan doesn’t trust Vinny so at first, he goes with the public defender, John Gibbons. Because he has no idea that the guy suffers stage fright and develops a severe speech impediment when he has to interact with the witnesses and the jury. And his showdown with Sam Tipton, the first witness, steals the show. He can’t speak well enough to discredit him and yet he tries anyway, first by pointing out that Tipton wasn’t wearing his glasses when he ID-ed the defendants. Except Tipton destroys that argument by claiming they are reading glasses. And the camera pans to Gibbons’ stunned face. He attempts to throw up a Hail Mary and asks him to identify the defendants’ eye colors. “Brown. Hazel Green,” comes the reply as the camera again cuts to Gibbons’ face, which looks like it was just hit with a frying pan. He then concedes by saying, “No more questions.” Pools of laughter.

 

Image result for My cousin vinny no more questions GIF

 

 

The Movie: “Mean Girls” (2004)

The Moment: “She doesn’t even go here.” 

I’m almost certain I saw this movie when it came out but it wasn’t until last summer than I fell on the floor laughing at this moment. My wife was teaching English to Chinese children on the internet upstairs and I had done all I needed to do for the day so I watched this movie.

I’ll spare all the plot details but near the end all the girls in the high school get together in the gym, led by Tina Fey, to discuss the vicious drama that has been tearing apart the school. They are supposed to face each other and confess their transgressions, in full view of the other girls. And one syrupy girl stands up in front of everyone and says, “I just wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school. I wish that I could bake a cake out of rainbows and smiles that we could all eat and be happy.” To which Damian, having snuck into the meeting with a hoodie and sunglasses (as he always did), pipes up, “She doesn’t even go here!” And Ms. Norbury (Fey) asks, “Do you even go here?” And this random girl, in a mixture of tears and smiles, responds, “No.”

When my wife heard me laughing and came down later to find out why I explained it. And she said, “I bet I could put that quote on Facebook and people would know it.” And I thought, “No way.” But she was right. Apparently “She doesn’t even go here” is a cultural phenomenon.

 

Image result for She doesn't even go here GIF

Image result for She doesn't even go here GIF

Image result for She doesn't even go here GIF

 

 

The Movie: “O Brother Where Art Thou?” (2000) 

The Moment: Delmar is convinced Pete is a toad. 

After our three “heroes” lose consciousness from too much corn whiskey offered to them by beautiful, seductive women, Delmar and Ulysses Everett wake up to find Pete is gone, leaving behind only his clothes. And a toad. The women had really turned him over to the police but Delmar is absolutely convinced they did something worse: “Them sireens did this to him. They loved ‘im up and turned ‘im into a horny toad.” (Ulyssis: I don’t think that’s Pete. Delmar: Of course it’s Pete, look at ‘im.”) The whole thing is laugh out loud funny but the ROTFL clincher is later in the car when Delmar says “We got to find some kind of wizard can change ‘im back.” Delmar probably really believes there are wizards.

Later, when they reunite with Pete, Delmar confesses, “We thought you was a toad.” Which brings it full circle and gives this hilarious plot development closure. Without a doubt my favorite role by Tim Blake Nelson ever. Anyone who doesn’t find this funny gets an “I don’t get it, Big Dan” from me.

 

Image result for O Brother Where Art Thou Find A Wizard GIF

 

The Movie: “Dickie Roberts” (2003)

The Moment: School bullies get straight up ethered by Dickie.

My friend Matt is a peer now, but 15 years ago I was his youth pastor. And we celebrated his 16th birthday by going for pizza and watching this movie. And during this scene, I got laughing so hard, and Matt got to laughing at me laughing so hard, that the entertainment in our theater ceased to be the movie and began to be the spectacle of us, me on the floor and Matt all but.

The scene is rather simple. Sam is being mocked by some bigger kids after school. Dickie comes in and lays down an epic verbal beating punctuated with “I’ll tell you what…Red, Tub of Goo, Freak of Nature, why don’t you guys run home, pee your pants, slap each others’ bottoms, cry your eyes out, get up, have an eggo, come back and we’ll do it all again.”

As far back as when Chris Farley was still alive, David Spade’s schtick has fit perfectly in my comedy wheelhouse. He just has it. His quit wit, facial expression and mannerisms slay me. And this scene is a grand slam of those things.

 

Image result for Dickie Roberts bullies

 

Honorable Mention: The post-funeral boat scene in “Tommy Boy”…

 

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…and the Mutants at Table 9 scene in “The Wedding Singer”.

 

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So, that’s my list. I’m sure many of our readers don’t literally ROTFL like I do, but perhaps you have laughed uncontrollably. Feel free to share below.

 

 

 

 

 

 




Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Introduction by Gowdy Cannon

He left a mark on American Culture which is as unique and inimitable as could be. A few years ago, in a Facebook tournament I did on people who influenced your love for fantasy, I included him alongside names like Tolkien and Disney. Because he deserved it. Very few children in the U.S for the last several decades have escaped his influence. And considering how he took something as crucial to development as learning to read and crafted words and pictures to make us long for more books and to reread the same ones over and over, I would say his legacy in this arena is unrivaled.

So to honor what would have been the 114th birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel, we pay tribute to five Dr. Seuss books that were formative to our childhoods and that have even impacted our adulthoods.


How The Grinch Stole Christmas – by D.A. Speer

As with (I assume) most other people in America, almost every childhood holiday season the animated Grinch movie would somehow end up on our TV. It usually wasn’t deliberate on my family’s part. The television would be on, and one of the major networks would be airing it. Thus, my memory of the story was piecemeal at best. And my most recent memory of it involved Jim Carrey, but we won’t speak of “that one.”

This past year while we were in Japan, my daughter suffered greatly from bacterial meningitis and made a miraculous recovery from both that *and* a mass/tumor that they discovered behind her eyes. After we moved back the States and she was given a clean bill of health, we were in shock. I think we might still be. Thus, I wanted to make this past Christmas extra special, because I was celebrating with my special daughter.

I hyped up the movie for her one day, and we sat down on the couch that evening to watch it, my arm around hers. I’m sure it was the first time I have seen it through as an adult.

I soon realized while I was watching just what it was that kept Dr. Seuss’s works alive and relevant after all these years. It wasn’t the nostalgia. It wasn’t the artwork. It wasn’t that it was kitschy or had meme value. It was simply the heart.

When the townspeople gather together after all of their stuff is taken and happily sing their song anyway, I was completely overwhelmed. Tears started flowing.

“Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

I hugged my daughter that much closer.


Hop On Pop – by Gowdy Cannon

A huge draw to Dr. Seuss has always been how he combines simplicity with zaniness to produce education and Hop on Pop is a premier example. This book is a riot to read and as a kid you probably do not realize how much you are learning about English sounds. As I’ve written recently, English is extremely inconsistent with pronunciation yet the good Doctor found some very common patterns and put them to at times nonsensical, other times pointed and yet always delightful phrases. I could live to be 100 and never forget the fish in the tree. Yet the quick wit of Dr. Seuss responds “How can that be?” And I will always associate this book with wanting to hop on my dad and him letting us (though not quite like in the book). Put this together with Seuss’s hilarious illustrations and you have a timeless classic of a book.

This book to me is more entertaining than half of the TV episodes I have watched. At nearly 40 years old, it still tickles my brain.


And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street – by Benjamin Plunkett

As a child, I read and owned around 20 books by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). No other books, juvenile or adult, have done more to inspire my imagination through both writing and imagery. The most imagination-inspiring and thus my favorite Seuss book of all is And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. Upon researching this book for REO I was surprised to discover that this was the very first children’s book that he wrote in 1937.  The story goes that he wrote the story to alleviate the immense boredom while traveling on a ship. And presto changeo, his first of a long and legendary line of children’s books that inspired imagination in millions of kids for decades.

If you are not familiar with the story, you should be. Look it up now. The entire text of the book is online for free.  Wow. Marco’s imagination really grows on Mulberry Street. First it is just a horse and cart, then the horse turns into a zebra, then the cart turns into a chariot, and on and on it goes until finally there is a squad of policemen on motorcycles guiding two giraffes and an elephant pulling a wagon with a big brass band pulling another wagon with an old man watching them in awe. And that’s not all. Marco’s imagination has spawned more stuff than you can, well, imagine. But Seuss could and he did. It is not an overestimation to say that Seuss probably had more of an impact on generations of children through his unforgettably imaginative writing, incredibly clever storylines, and the unfailing beauty of his signature illustrations than history’s many pop culture personalities. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss, may your works continue to impact children for many more years.


Green Eggs and Ham – by Phill Lytle

Sam (aka: Sam-I-am) is persistent. He is a bit pesky. It’s no wonder the unnamed curmudgeon at the center of Green Eggs and Ham is so curmudgeonly. Sam just will not leave him alone. Sam-I-am makes his appearance riding the back of a happy-go-lucky creature while holding a sign announcing who he is….because, who wouldn’t want to know who Sam is? Our humorless curmudgeon makes it clear at the outset that he does not care for Sam-I-am. So Sam does the most logical thing: he offers the grump some green eggs and ham. It’s a hard pass on the green eggs and ham for Mr. Curmudgeon but Sam does not give up because he knows that if he can get his new “friend” to try this delicious meal, everything will change.

Sam is a genius. A happy, creative, crazy genius. His new friend – the curmudgeon – does not really dislike green eggs and ham. He dislikes Sam. We don’t know why, but page 9 makes that perfectly clear. So Sam decides to wear him down. He presents one absurd option after another. Each more ridiculous than the one before. There are goats, boxes, and trains involved. By the end, Sam triumphs. The curmudgeon eats the green eggs and ham. He loves the green eggs and ham. He smiles. He puts his hand on Sam’s back. He thanks Sam-I-am. They are friends indeed.

Only 50 words. That was all it took. The entire story, all 62 pages, used only 50 different words. That was the genius of Dr. Seuss. In this book, arguably his most popular, he used silly characters, crazy antics, and inventive rhymes to teach us how to try new things, how to deal with grumpy people, and how to admit when we are wrong and make amends.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – by Amy Lytle

“You can go anywhere and be anything!”

Except when you can’t.

“You are so amazing, everyone will love you!”

Except when they don’t.

And that little word “except” is what makes me, a person who isn’t very emotional, choke up nearly every time I read Oh, the Places You’ll Go! In addition to Seuss’ typical style of rhyme and imaginative word usage, he tackles the truth that life is hard and doesn’t always go as planned, even for the brainiest and the footsy-est.

It’s a book about grit.

As a teacher and a mother, I’ve read and studied and researched the concept of instilling resilience in children. We now have the research that shows the tell-everyone-they-are-great concept of building self-esteem does not work. Kids are too smart for empty words. Dr. Seuss was ahead of the research, publishing Places in 1990. He tells kids they have some choices in life, and even with brilliance and a sense of adventure, things don’t always work out. But they should keep moving.

He tells them the truth.


That’s five. There are so many more stories to talk about. We would love to hear about your favorites in the comment section below.

 

 




Turning the Stranger Into Family

Every week at my small group, I pray the same prayer: “God, thank you for friends who’ve become family.”

There is no doubt that to me, after 16 years and being a thousand miles from home, my church is my family. The amount of people I could call in the middle of the night if I had an emergency is long. The number of people who drove six hours in the heavy rain to see me get married is almost the same number of people who come to an average Sunday service. I share no blood with any of those people, but we share something even deeper in unity of Spirit.

I’m sure many Christians all over the world could say the same things. Which is appropriate, since the Bible absolutely teaches us that Christians are family. God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters in our faith. It’s beautiful, Psalm 133:1 says, when we live like we are.

Yet the Bible gets specific in how we are to practice this in a way that is extremely counterintuitive. Hebrews 13:2 states it this way: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  Similarly, Job claims, “I have never turned away a stranger, but have opened my doors to everyone.” Jesus makes it personal when he says, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” 

I want to point out two things that are crucial to understanding and contextualizing these verses in 2018 America. First, the word “stranger” every time means someone from a different country who lives among you. That can be easily seen in both the Hebrew and Greek words used as well as how “stranger” was defined in Israelite law (Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 24:22). This group was often mentioned with the orphan, widow and poor as people to whom great compassion should be shown (Deuteronomy 24:17). God knew something back then that we can still see today: when you are a new immigrant, primarily because you have fewer resources, you are extremely prone to be a victim of injustice.

Secondly, all of them teach that we are to have strangers (and especially fellow Christians) in our homes. The word for “hospitality” in Hebrews 13:2 literally means love of strangers while the word for “entertain” literally means to receive a stranger as a guest. And the ideas of “inviting in” and “open doors” are specific as well. Having someone in your home is an intimate event in any culture that I have experience with. It is an act reserved for family and closest friends.

I say this is counterintuitive for obvious reasons. The very fact people from other countries have been historically and biblically called things with negative connotations in American English now like “stranger” and “alien” in some way proves that parts of our culture bend against treating immigrants (a more modern and less demeaning word) like family. As I have written before, we often tend to do church in a homogeneous way, where we are similar in culture and even in our coded language and preferences in things like music. And my guess would be that we are even more limited in whom we share our homes with than whom we share our church with, since there is research that indicates that only a tiny percentage of people have other races and ethnicities as a part of their circle of friends, and especially their inner circle friends[1. Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, August 25, 2014. Information accessed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/three-quarters-of-whites-dont-have-any-non-white-friends]. Yet biblically we are to share our homes for meals (and whenever possible, more intimate and longterm events than that), with Christians who look and act quite differently than we do.

This is an issue of the Gospel. In Ephesians 2, I find it impossible to separate salvation by grace through faith with how we accept immigrant brothers and sisters. In political discourse, it is completely understandable that we use words like “Immigrant” to describe those who have moved here from other countries. But Paul taught in Ephesians 2 in the church this terminology is obsolete. The Hebrews had many laws that commanded them to treat the stranger among them with love and compassion, like Leviticus 19:9-10 and 19:33-34. But in Ephesians 2:19 Paul says to Christian Gentiles, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” So I tell the immigrant believers in my church, “The world may call you an ‘immigrant’ but at Northwest, we call you ‘family’.” And unless I truly treat people like family, which includes having them in my home, then I’m just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

In his sledgehammer book, Generous Justice, Tim Keller drives home the point about eating with the stranger as being a Gospel issue by referencing Paul’s confrontation with Peter in Galatians. Peter had stopped eating with Gentiles out of fear of man and Paul rebuked him that he “was not acting in line with the Gospel[2. Tim Keller, Generous Justice, 124].” The Gospel has never ended with man’s reconciliation to God. It has always included people groups’ reconciliation to each other, as evidenced by Ephesians 2 and also by nearly 20 different languages present for the beginning of the Christian church. How can we be truly reconciled from a distance? We must invite them in. As Hebrews taught. As Job lived. As Jesus said we should treat him.

So my question for you today is: Are you acting in line with the Gospel? Are you practicing Hebrews 13:2 hospitality? Let me be plain that this is not a series of question with a political angle. I’m not writing this only to conservative white Christians. The truth of the Bible transcends that. I ask them to all Christians who read this. Because the familial nature of Christianity, and our Gospel, demand it.

 




Five English Absurdities Native Speakers Take For Granted

Perhaps you have seen this before:

 

Oh yes, even back when Twitter was 140 characters, you could sum up how maddening English can be in one tweet.

But beyond how ou doesn’t follow any sensible rules for pronunciation, proven by the above example’s repetition of th before it and gh after it, it only gets worse.

Oh so very much more worse.

As a Level 1 ESL teacher, I have the privilege of introducing the insanity of basic English to about 50 horrified faces each year. I’m quite fascinated by my students’ reactions to what I’m about to share with you. But I’m supremely fascinated by the reactions of native English speakers who happen by my class and catch a snippet of a lesson. Their reaction is generally the same: “I never thought about how hard introductory English is before.” To be honest, I didn’t either.

But now I think about it all the time. So much that I love writing about it. Today I present five everyday aspects of English that drive second language learners crazy that native speakers don’t often think about.


1. Negations No Are Easy

If you want to negate a sentence in Spanish, you know what you do? You add the word “no” before the verb. Doesn’t matter the tense, the subject, or the verb used, it doesn’t get more complicated than that.

Do you know what English does to make negatives?

Well, in present tense we say “don’t” for I/you/we/they (I don’t go) but we say “doesn’t” for he/she it (He doesn’t go). The verb with he/she/it doesn’t have an s even though the positive does. We say “he goes” yet it’s not “he doesn’t goes” but rather “he doesn’t go”. Which is a riot to announce in my class after three weeks of browbeating them that he/she/it adds an s to the verb in present tense. Yet, with the verb “to be” we do not say “don’t” or “doesn’t” but instead “not”. And this time it’s after the verb, not before. Past tense has a new negative word–“didn’t”–but its the same for everybody and has no alternative form for he/she/it. But we also put the verb form back in a present tense form, meaning we say “I went” as positive and “I didn’t go” as negative instead of saying “I didn’t went”. Verb “to be” still adds the word “not” after the verb. Helping verbs such as “will” and “can” follow the same pattern as verb “to be” by adding the word “not” after the helping verb but before the actual verb. And for nearly all of these, there are two forms: a contracted form and a separated form.

Forming questions involves almost identical issues so no need to rehash that disaster of grammatical verbiage.


2. Hook-ed on P-honics Work-ed for me!

Is there any language in the world that has less consistency in how a word looks and how it sounds? I mean, look at the word one. Or two. Those are the two most basic numbers and English spells them about as weirdly as possible. We should have spelled “2” something like “xrz&n”, just to make it even more outrageous.

Or how about those silent letters? Like the i in business. Or the first r in February. Or the d in Wednesday (and really the second e as well). Or plumber, sign, wrist, Christmas, aisle, column, honest, receipt, and knowledge.

It’s completely nuts that ed sounds like t in some verbs, as with the Brian Regan phonics joke above.  It’s bonkers that ch sounds like k in mechanic and like sh in machine, neither of which are its regular sound. It’s cuckoo that final –le in many words (like candle, table, and apple) really sounds like el (or ul). And it is preposterous that –tion sounds like shun.

Can you imagine learning the English alphabet and then having the word eight put in front of you? EH-II-GA-HU-TU.

No, silly. It’s pronounced AAAAT.


3. English Vowels Behave Like Johnny Manziel

If you have a vowel-consonant-final E pattern, the vowel sound is long, as in the words save, five and stove. Except when it isn’t, in words like have, give and move. The diphthong ea can be Long E, Short E or Long A, as in read, head and great. (Except when it’s none of those, as in the word create). There is no way to tell when it will be any of them, as you can see with the words break and breakfast. Same letters, different sounds. Similar is the o in both and bother (which also changes the sound of th). And for the u in student and study. And the oo in food and flood.

The sound of ei changes constantly (weight, height, either, forfeit), as does ie (field, friend, science).  The word tomorrow has three o’s and none of them are the same. The word women has an o that sounds like an i. The word money has an o that sounds like a Short U. Who has an o that sounds like a Long U. And the word business has a u that sounds like an i!

Every time I teach this my students have the same look on their faces that I had during the last season of LOST.


4. Objectionable Objects

Have you ever thought about this: We say, “I gave the pen to him” or ” I gave him the pen” but we never say “I gave to him the pen” or “I gave the pen him”?  Have you ever thought about how we say “Turn the TV off” or “Turn off the TV” but when we replace TV with “it” we do say, “Turn it off” but we do not say “Turn off it”.

Trying to teach objects to second language learners makes me want to light myself on fire. I’m kidding. I love it. It’s like playing paintball in a Community episode.


5. Verbs Gone Wild

Have you ever noticed that we say “I have an appointment on Friday” but that we say “I’m having a party on Friday” and to use those two verbs tenses backwards sounds weird? Until I taught English I never thought about how odd it is that English speakers say “I got it” when they mean, “I’ll get it,” as in catching a ball or answering the phone. We use the past tense to communicate the future. What?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about verbs that my students have pointed out is that we add s to make nouns plural (usually) but then with verbs we add s to a singular form. To the mind of other languages, it’s completely backwards that we say “the dog eats” but that “the dogs eat”.

We also often have two verbs that translate to one verb in other languages that make it very hard for learners to know the difference. “Do” and “Make” are so similar that they both often translate to hacer in Spanish and robić in Polish, yet they are almost never used interchangeably in English. We typically don’t make homework or do a decision. Nike didn’t tell us to “Just make it” and I will never say, “The music does me dance.”

The funniest thing that ever happened in my ESL Class was once I was teaching my students the difference between “say” and “tell” because both translate often to the same verb in Spanish, decir. And I explained that “tell” will have a person a its first object and “say” won’t. It’s “Tell you” or “Tell me” but never “Say you” or “Say me”. And one of my students belted out, “Say you, say me, say it for always, that’s the way it should be” with perfect ’80s ballad passion. All I could think was that another perfectly good English lesson was ruined by Lionel Ritchie.


I get it: Other languages have similar issues. Just looking at my Polish notes and seeing that there are like 30 different translations of the English word “you,” I’m reminded daily. Yet English is no doubt among the craziest.

Are there things about English you find odd or frustrating? Are other languages you know like this? Share below!

 

 

 

 

 




Biblical Outrage in a Twitter Outrage World

#JusticeforHarambe

His name has become a joke to so many people, including in one of the more hilarious Babylon Bee entries, that I wonder how many people seriously expressed outrage over the killing of a gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo.

Regardless of the actual number, that incident is like the poster child in my mind for social media outrage era. I do not think anyone who uses Facebook or Twitter or Instagram can deny that these websites have given us a venue to show people just how upset we are by major and minor injustices in the world.

I’m not going to try to sort out the differences between major and minor here. There is no doubt that some events are worthy of mass outrage and social media posts, including things like shootings and sexual abuse. What I am going to do instead is look at a significant passage of Scripture that deals with appropriate outrage and then try to contrast how we filter and practice this passage in our modern day.

I have and will likely always teach that biblical truth is the intersection of what the Bible meant to its original audience and what it means today. Culture differences make applications to Bible texts akin to mining for gold and when the culture around us changes significantly in a short period of time (as it has in the U.S. with the extremely recent and prominent rise of social media sites), we are prudent to constantly evaluate how we apply the Bible.

The story in Ezra 9-10 is simple enough in its conflict. God’s people were kicked out of their homeland for 70 years for idolatry in actions like marrying from among the surrounding pagan nations. After they were mercifully allowed to come back, a report came to their spiritual leader, Ezra, that some had begun yet again to commit the same violations of their law that got them thrown out in the first place. Ezra’s reaction is one of outrage. Ezra 9:3 says:

When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and my robe and ripped out some of the hair from my head and beard. Then I sat down, quite devastated.

The expression “quite devastated” here could very well be rendered “horrified”. A few verses later in 10:1 we read:

While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God…

He had no keyboard and didn’t direct himself to an audience. But Ezra was clearly upset in a similar way we see people attempting to communicate on the internet. And how he reacts beyond the outrage has a lot to say for us in the United States that will help us know how to react on Social Media and beyond. Here are a few things Ezra did that we would be wise to consider doing when dealing with injustice around us.


Ezra’s Outrage Was For His Neighbors

Probably the most important thing I have gleaned from the Social Media Outrage Era is that we can be very selective about it. We tend to react to whatever we see based on the people we’ve friended or what news sources we follow. And if we wanted to, we could find something every single day to be upset about.

I’ve often feared that I am getting desensitized to much tragedy news. Because tragic events are constant in a 24 hour and social media news cycle. And then I wonder, why do we express outrage over things we see on Facebook that are hundreds or thousands of miles from us when every single day there are certainly terrible injustices and people hurting in close proximity to us? That perhaps we are missing something because social media outrage is easy and convenient while dealing with real people in real messiness, as Ezra did, is hard?

What if we were proactive with our outrage instead of reactive? What if we were so involved in our communities, churches and neighborhoods, that we were aware of injustice for people we see face to face and as a result, we had less time for outrage over things and people we know far less about?

I’ve heard several people say that social media gives us a broad but shallow audience while the local church gives us a more focused but far deeper impact. Our outrage supports that claim.


Ezra’s Outrage Included His Own Sin

Here is something I do not see very much of on social media: Someone expresses outrage over some act of injustice and then includes pronouns like “we” and “us” when referring to who needs forgiveness. Yet, that is exactly what Ezra did even though he was not guilty of intermarrying with pagan nations.

This is a pattern you see in the Bible. Isaiah (6:5), Nehemiah (1:6-7), and Daniel (9:4-17) all did the exact same thing. They were righteous men yet did not exempt themselves from corporate confession and repentance.

I can’t help but wonder if social media outrage makes it easy to see the problem as “them” instead of “us”.


Ezra’s Outrage Was Tempered By Confessing God’s Grace

Outrage can be healthy to experience and express but if a person is a follower of Christ, eventually they should be just as likely to express how gracious God is. Keep in mind, if a Christian victim of something like sexual abuse makes a social media post shortly after the event and doesn’t mention God’s grace, I am not going to judge that person. But on the whole, social media outrage is far out of balance in our expressions of gloom and doom, despair and bitter judgment.

Again, Ezra teaches us that we can be viciously angry over things people do to harm others. But if we need a theology of still proclaiming God’s grace manifested in our past, present and future.


Ezra’s Outrage Was Profound, Lasting and Meaningful

Ezra essentially fasted for many hours over the news he got. He mourned boisterously. He prayed with humiliation. What he expressed was so powerful, it caused others to join him.

I wonder how often we express outrage over some Twitter trending hashtag and then 15 minutes later are eating lunch and laughing with friends? Please understand I get that not all outrage has to be this significant. But I sincerely worry that we have replaced deep, personal grief that shakes us to our core with a wimpy anger that is a mile wide but an inch thick and leaves us about the same as we were yesterday.


Ezra’s Outrage Was Followed By Practical Action Steps

Outrage is a part of the human experience. If you are an emotionally healthy human being, you will feel it. But feeling anger is not enough. Confession and Repentance are the heart of Christianity and Ezra guides the people to swiftly do something to undo the horror they had committed. And when we have dealt with those things in our own lives, we need to get out and follow up practically, even on social media.

If I feel that some people are victims in the DACA conflict, I could write up a post telling people how I feel about it. Depending on how I expressed myself and if my post is based on what is true biblically and factually, then that could be good. But I could also post a link to help teach people where they can go to get help if they are in the mess. That’s where I have felt conviction and where I want to change.


And then there is plenty to do outside of the internet. But I want to be clear that social media, like fire, is something that can be productive or destructive and there are ways to use it with wisdom. Even with our outrage.

Comments are welcomed below.