My favorite Fish

Tonight we went out to eat for my uncle Blakey’s birthday. These were some of my favorite fish in the restaurant’s fishtank. I took the pictures myself, with maybe a little help from my aunt Amanda.

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Ice Ice Baby

We had some investment friends give us some tickets to ICE at Opry Mills this week. All we had to do was watch a short sales video. ICE is cool, literally & figuratively. Brooks walking around was our highlight and especially the full size parka he had to wear.

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Jackson Orchard

Today we spent the day at Jackson Orchard with a few close friends & their children, who happen to be close friends with Brooks. We had a great time playing on their playground area, petting & feeding various animals (Brooks liked the baby pigs), picking a pumpkin, slurping down some apple cider slushy (dad went for seconds), running from a rain storm, chasing down quick children, and having an overall good time.

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Playing Hooky

Today the dad unit & B skipped out on school for some mischief. After dad unit had a morning phone call we headed to the golf course where we played for over an hour or two. It was a gorgeous day. We even spotted planes & a train. Mom unit came to the course to have lunch with us. We played some more then went hone for a nap. After resting up we re-arranged our train table then headed out to feed the ducks. We had a good time feeding the ducks. Then we went home to make dinner for mom unit. Good day to skip school.

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Brooks Birthday Bash!

Our little man had his official 2 Years Birthday today. We had it at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville which has a cool indoor playground/climbing thing that goes up two stories. Their party staff was excellent to us as well. Brooks was excited with the Thomas the Train theme as well, it’s his favorite these days.

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Lying to ourselves in Social Media

I was again amused by the publicity campaigns of BeautifulPeople.com who has made news recently for kicking out some 30,000 ‘members’ of their social media site. Last time they did that they claimed it was because people “let themselves go” after the Christmas/New Year holidays and the ‘beautiful people’ were complaining that the site had let their standards slip. This time they are claiming some virus/hack that no one has heard of has added these un-savory people (publicity stunt).

Truth is, we all lie.. and we all participate in lying at some level in our social media presence.

Gavin Richardson

My Profile Lie

Case in point for me. The photo I use for all my profiles is me and it isn’t altered in any fashion (except cropping) but it is a photo that captures me in a not so fat or sloven look that many others can do. Not to mention I’m reading a book in that photo.. I don’t think I ever actually finished that book & most of the time I read off the Kindle or Kindle iPad app these days, which doesn’t look nearly as studious. Truth is, that pic is something I wish I was a little more of.

I am that at times, but most times I am a bit to heavy that if I think about it I feel less than my best. Reading & being all studious smart happens when I actually have enough energy left at the end of the day of work and parenting to do without falling asleep.. which is rare these days.

I wonder what the world of social media would look like if we all spent more time, maybe not lying, but telling a full truth about ourselves. Would social media become more of a therapy than a social setting.. Do we change the name to ‘Therapy Media?’

Maybe, we really do not want to get so involved in each others lives to handle a ‘therapy media’ culture?.. I suppose if we want that we can pick up the phone and actually talk to someone about what’s actually going on their lives..

Phyllis Tickle, Freakonomics & a ‘vital’ congregation

In my latest posting of my newfound Neflix documentary watching I choose to watch Freakonomics. I am fascinated with Levitt’s concepts and numbers crunching analysis. This is rather funny to me because I am far from a numbers type person. However, he seems to tap into something that I believe for many of my church and cultural observations and that is that the numbers are never quite what they seem or presented to us. More times than not our conventional look of cause & effect on actions of our world are probably not what they are.

As a documentary Freakonomics was entertaining in this way for me. One of the Feakonomics case studies that had me intrigued most was the reasoning for the drop in crime starting in the 90′s after huge rises in crime through the 70′s to 80′s. Government officials and experts were extolling practices of police practices, tougher sentencing, and a few other items. What was an interesting connection was that those couldn’t tell the whole story and the rest of the story was filled out by the passing of Roe vs Wade and the availability of abortions. This kept a generation of unwanted children from ever being born and the numbers fall into line of the drop of 20 something population who were the crime offenders at that point, but had huge statistical drops. Is it right? I’d like to think there is a lot of credibility to the whole thing.

As I work with my United Methodist church who is trying to label and build “vital” congregations I cannot help but wonder that the numbers are not what they seem. I do not have some great answer, but it feels that our metrics we measure our “vitality” is too conventional and not dynamic enough to represent what is truly going on.

One of the things that is commonly referenced is that the United Methodist Church is dying in America. The UMC’s heyday was the 1950′s and many times the church entity keeps trying to replicate that era.

Was sitting in with Phyllis Tickle a few months back where she was going through her patterned history lessons of the faith and church. She had some interesting connections that in the 20th century at the break of the Great Depression and the start of the World War II for Americans the women took up the tools of the men’s trades and became the iconic “Rosie the Riveter.” The culture of Rosie was that they would go off to work becoming exhausted from a day of work and do what the man would do to unwind, stopping by the bar. When the war ended and the men came home Rosie went back to the daily duty of the home. She was left without something very important for her community. Rosie was left without a “third place.” The bar was the important “third place” for community for the group of men and ladies. However, for a group of ladies community was gone. So what became the new third place? The church?..

Maybe the boom of the United Methodist Church in the 50′s was less about the church’s evangelism and disciple making, but more about a sociological need for the ladies of the home to re-find community.

 

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude, Changes in Gay Marriage

There is a interesting set up graphs from the Pew Research group on the peoples perception/view of gay marriage categorized by groupings.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Not surprising that an overall divide of opinion is about half & half (graph 1)
  • Not surprised to see that the youngest generations are more in favor of a gay marriage (graph 2). Percentages have exceeded a majority which is interesting and also lends to a huge divide in values between a church’s viewpoint (graph 3).
  • Not surprising is the breakdown of the Christian faith categories. Though I might say that such a high differential between the Catholic and Mainline Protestant views & the Religiously Unaffiliated. Again, a huge values divide there (graph 3)
  • Was kinda surprised a more moderate voice in the Republican party didn’t bring the political viewpoint a little bit closer to the Democratic / Independent view (which are almost identical). Though a difference is expected, it was a huge divide there and is probably that hill many republican conservatives are willing to die, or live/campaign on (graph 4).
  • Graph 5 is probably right where I’d expect our culture. Conservatives & Liberals are riding their lines and are quite set in those. The Moderates might be like me, you’d favor it, but you are not sure that it is in the whole country’s interest to force it so you’d opt for a conservative/cautious approach. Some then are probably just good either way.

One thing was plugging at my thoughts reading this. An institution, like my church tribe, cannot survive with one or two generations of people apathy towards it. There needs to be some reconciliation that would bring some relational & passionate connection towards the Gen X’ers & Millennials, not to mention the generation after Millennials who are probably going to be more affirming, within the church so that it can survive a values divide. Tough call there as a theology could be debated on either side and the long tradition of the church leans against. Changing just because culture is shifting isn’t the most divine way to change, but it has done so for less than divine reasons before.. Tough call, but a call that needs to be made sometime soon or continue a slow death