30 April 2008

tax gas or not to tax gas, that is the question

I love this campaign rhetoric about suspending the tax on gas to help us poor, beaten consumers.

Let's see....a federal gas tax holiday this summer will cost the government approximately $25 billion.....or the equivalent of about 2 weeks in Iraq. It will save the average American approximately $25. Wow. I think on this one Obama has the right idea-suspension of the gas tax doesn't solve the problem-it just adds $25 billion to the national debt. But Hillary and McCain are embracing it. Election hype to get us to vote for them.

Indiana politicians aren't left out of this discussion. Jill Long wants a suspension of the state gas tax, along with a willing (I desperately need your vote) Mitch. Schellinger isn't biting but is painted as the bad guy, just like Obama. For the record, I think Jill is better qualified-she just has this one all wrong.

The fact of the matter is if the tax were removed tomorrow, gas prices would rise to the previous level within a week. Usually you see democrats rallying behind this issue, as O'Bannon did post 9/11. One of the dumbest things his administration did-and I liked him.

I'd rather see the feds stick $25 billion into R&D for sustainable development (pushing down the need for fossil fuels) and alternative fuel sources. But that doesn't buy votes, eh?


Despite the cold temperatures these last few days.......and snow on the ground in Porter County, I believe it is spring, at least these guys have been fooled into thinking so.

29 April 2008

I need more stimulus! Now!

It appears the hot topic around the water cooler and on the playground is.....what are YOU going to do with your economic stimulus check? whoaaaa, buddy! Let me tell you!

I plan to go to WalMart and buy a bunch of cheap junk manufactured in China, to boost their economy and further erode ours by shifting american jobs oversees so that fat cats at WalMart corporate can drive Hummers. Well, at least the Hummers are made locally. On second thought, maybe I'll just buy food and gas we can no longer afford.

This whole debate centered around what you are going to do with your $300 is silly. Now, as a family of 4 I think we're on the high end of $1200. Unlike the majority of other Hoosiers, I'm sure, we'll be sticking our check into savings and forgetting about it. It might just offset our increase in food, gas and heating costs over the last year.

I would be curious as to the billions of dollars the checks will cost the feds. I would like to see how many more days in Iraq it would buy (at $2 billion a day I think). A better use of the funds would be to spend those dollars on rebuilding our failing infrastructure........at least that would provide jobs in america and keep our bridges from killing us.

Sorry George, I'm not going to be patriotic and blow that check you're sending me. I'm doing the more conservative thing and sticking it away for when things really get bad.

voter ID & crazy boxes

Well, I so appreciate the US Supreme court upholding Indiana's voter ID law. I mean, my word, we've had blatant disregard for our laws with out of control illegal voting in our state for decades.

In my whole life I have only ever heard of one case of voter fraud in the Culver area-and they were prosecuted. Seems like a good reason to require great aunt betty to remember to bring her ID with her when cousin max takes her to the polls.

I don't particularly have a problem with the law....but it had clear undertones of partisan politics. Had the Hoosier state been suffering from high cases of fraud, I could understand this-but it certainly would seem on the surface to be a republican strategy to complicate legal voting for some folks who just want to exercise their sacred right.

It might be more interesting to follow Florida's lead on having "crazy boxes" on their ballots. You have to check a box at the end of the ballot certifying you're not certifiable. I like this. Actually, I would like to see the stats from who the crazy people vote for vs. the sane. We have one local candidate, a D, who files for one office or another every year. I think he would get a high percentage of crazy votes. He might not be able to check the box himself.

Maybe this wouldn't be such a great idea.......I'd hate to find out how many people really are crazy in our state.......we may end up losing half our voters by this disqualifying action.

28 April 2008

Open your eyes!

Sermon recap.
We had a guest speaker at church yesterday. Those are always tricky because you don't know what to expect by way of sermon topics. I think he was nervous at first too, because he kept repeating "cross reference". Finally, it stopped.

He pointed out several passages, possibly 5, in Matthew in which it was stated Christ had compassion on either individuals or on whole groups. Compassion has to be something "felt" from the heart. You can't choose to have compassion-its gotta been something that stirs inside you and comes out of the heart. Christ had compassion because he saw and felt the hurt. Man, when was the last time you "felt" it?

And then, in dramatic fashion Christ said to his disciples....."Look!......the harvest is ripe". Visiting preacher said it's as though Christ said "Open your eyes!" This was very effective because he kept repeating it with great big hand gestures around his eyes that seemed to be popping out of his skull. Wow, talk about dramatic!

So, I'm left with two thoughts. (1) Compassion-we have to see people the way Christ does, we have to pray for that, no matter how dangerous it might be..........so that (2) when we do have our eyes open, we will be moved to help. I don't think it's about converts....it's about compassion.

200 mindless Hoosier dribbles later....

I was scrolling down the side of my blog last week and noticed I posted over a hundred entries in 2007, holy crap! Then I scrolled back up and saw that I was racking them up pretty quickly for 2008...that in fact I would be at 200 entries soon. And so, this is #200.

My wife thinks I may be addicted to blogging. I don't think it is that severe yet, but I do have a half dozen others I check frequently; I also find myself thinking in any random circumstance, hmm...that would make a great post! And from time to time I say to her "I can't disappoint my readers". OK, maybe I do have a problem.

I started Hoosier Happenings in July, 2007 and have tried to remain anonymous because of a lot of political statements I make. Anyone who reads this in river city, though, can figure out pretty quickly who Hoosier Reborn is. How did it start? A good friend of mine preached one Sunday and asked if I would get up and reflect on a huge turning point in my life.....I agreed and it was probably one of the toughest things I've done. Leading up to that Sunday, I sent him several written thoughts on politics, christians in politics, and a christ centered witness. His reply was "man, you should start a blog". And with the encouragement from my wife, I did.

I think I offer a unique perspective on culture, faith and politics in Indiana. I love this state, and despite how backward I believe we can be, I love Hoosiers. My roots are deep here, pre-statehood deep, and I can't imagine being anywhere else. But it takes a lot of character to stay here, dig your feet in, and hope to make this a better place to live and raise your kids.

My goal is threefold:

1. Celebrate Hoosier culture.
This may come as a shock, but yes, we have culture. We have some fantastic destinations, traditions, natural beauty, wonderful people-famous and ordinary, and we also have to be big enough to laugh at ourselves.......hey, why not? everyone else does!

2. Challenge folks politically.
No one party has all the right answers. I didn't believe that at one time, but I wholly do now. I want to challenge people to think about doing what is right for people first and foremost and let party tags fall by the wayside. It may seem that I take more shots at R's vs. D's, but the R culture is what I grew up in......there's a verse somewhere about removing the plank in your own eye first. If we are constantly looking through party glasses-we'll never be all that we can be. I've been told I'm an idealist on this front. Better than no idea at all.

3. Be open about my Faith.
The importance of Christ in my life by no means is subtle or given to gray undertones in my entries. Christ performed an incredible work in me that continues to grow exponentially after my "political assassination" and I love to tell people about it. I'm not out to proselytize, I just wish others could grasp what Christ can do in their lives by seeing Him in me. And I am truly convinced we are witnessing an emerging christianity that is lived by honest and real people centered on Christ as their model and our reality is being Christ to everyone we know.

Thanks for reading & commenting.......pass it on.

25 April 2008

What the heck is going on?

I was, and probably will forever be, a Ronald Reagan fan & admirer. While in highschool I thought the man could do no wrong. As I've gotten older, I understand not all of his economic policies were sound, but I still admire the man who offered vision and hope for a country locked into malaise and mistrust. Reagan is one of my big 4 along with Jefferson, Lincoln, & T. Roosevelt.

So what the heck was Daniels doing doggin' on one of my boys? Could he give me even more reason to dislike him than to make a dumb, dumb statement on the Reagan legacy? Here it is folks, along with commentary by Rush (who I have no use for, but drives the point home):

The Indiana governor has come under fire from conservative Internet blogs and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for telling a Washington, D.C., crowd recently, "I think it is time to let Ronald Reagan go."

"Hey, Mitch? Governor? Governor Daniels? Should we get over Lincoln, too? He's in the past," Limbaugh said. "We just gotta get over Lincoln. This is so contrary to conservative thought."

I might add, why don't we get over Doc Bowen & Lugar too Mitch? I'm beginning to think that Daniels believes he can do no wrong; that in fact he believes he is setting the standard for conservatism across the nation. I think his four years has gone to his head-or he suffers from little man syndrome. Not sure.


And then there is my continual declining respect for McCain. John! What are you doing to me, man? For crying out loud, the reason I voted for you 8 years ago is because you proved party wasn't as important as doing the right thing and now you're embracing the tax measures you stood against during your career to cater to a right-wing base? From MSNBC:

Now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, however, McCain is marching straight down the party line. The economic package he has laid out embraces many of the tax policies he once decried: extending Bush's tax cuts he voted against, offering investment tax breaks he once believed would have little economic benefit and granting the long-held wishes of tax lobbyists he has often mocked.

Again I say it, I didn't leave the Republican Party.....the party left me. Or did they right me?

24 April 2008

Off the beaten path

Pennsylvania RR bridge with Yellowstone Trail bridge in distance & vice versa below
Closed road below-former Yellowstone Trail?

I have work that takes me across U.S. 30 frequently and I had noticed some time ago an old metal bridge off in the distance.........so, yesterday, on my way back I pulled off the road and drove passed a "road closed" sign for these pictures.

The number of surviving old steel truss bridges is declining rapidly. In fact, only a few more than covered wood bridges exist in the Hoosier state which prompted their listing on the National Trust's endangered list.

I heard a story about this old bridge-but have yet to verify it. It was told to me that this was once part of the historic Yellowstone Trail. This may well be true, because I know in this county the YT remained on the south side of the Pennsylvania Railroad, while the Lincoln Highway was located on the north side. Interestingly enough, bridges for all three routes are located within a few hundred feet of each other at this location. More on the Yellowstone Trail and Pennsylvania RR later.

On vs. In

A reader had an excellent idea for an entry which complimented one I had been wanting to do. A Catholic friend commented once that they (catholics in general) were at one time made fun of for having dashboard crucifixes and holy mothers in their cars....kinda like interior hood ornaments. But now it seems perfectly acceptable to have the Jesus fish on all our bumpers as a statement of faith. Personally, I'd rather have Jesus out in front too.

I tried to shoot a picture of a vehicle with a Jesus fish on it yesterday-but it proved too difficult and distracted me from driving safely.

Now, personally, I don't care........wear your Jesus fish wherever. Put it on your clothes, your cars-tattoo it if you'd like. But if you're going to do that, then by God, live like Him. Same goes for you dashboard figurine enthusiasts.......if you want to velcro the crucifix on your dash-go for it, but don't let me catch you speeding or cutting someone off.....or taking my parking spot.

On vs. In has more to do with what you do with your faith. Is it in you? or is it just stuck on the back of your car? (kinda like our license plates-see earlier entry)

On a side note: about the time we married my wife was convinced she wanted a Jesus fish tattoo on her ankle. I strongly encouraged her to rethink it-which she did. Nothing against most tattoos-a buddy of mine has one on each shoulder and I think they're pretty cool, but if his hulk-sized shoulders ever start to sag......not so cool.

23 April 2008

Christians in a Representative Democracy

There are few passages in scripture that deal with government and authority. One is Romans 13:

1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

The other is 1 Timothy 2:

1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

I have no doubt that these passages transcend time and governments and apply today. It is important to note the context of the times in which it was written. The Jewish people of the time didn't vote in elections....didn't hold primaries......it was not a representational democracy as we have here in this country. The encouragement in both of these passages speak to submission to rulers or governments placed over the people against their will (maybe it is a little like us).

So, how do Christians function in a democracy? Of course, we must vote our conscience-we must vote for people of integrity, for people that maybe most represent the nature of Christ. And we must submit, regardless of who is elected to rule. And we must pray for them-despite our objections to their character or decisions they make. Our prayers may be to remove someone in position over us, or to give wisdom and clarity for decisions that must be made...or, as I have found myself doing lately, pray for God to change the hearts of those in authority over us, particularly locally.

I don't believe in a full frontal assault of Christians engaging in politics where the words spoken are out of hate or power struggle. I don't believe in mindlessly voting party because somehow having a letter in front of your name makes you the moral choice. I do believe, and encourage, Christians to become involved in their communities to help solve problems and if that leads to political involvement-keep themselves in check so that their witness is more important than their position......or a win.


We're on, like, our 6th bird feeder at our house (been there 9 years). Each have succumbed to the gnawing of squirrels until this most recent one (some were supposedly squirrel-proof). I've moved it around hoping to get it out of squirrel reach......then finally got it in the right place, hanging from a thin gage wire between the house and a tree.

Being the generous nature loving guy that I am, I still bought corn for the critters and placed sunflower seed on a wood platform. Everything was copacetic for a few months, then a few weeks ago I noticed a squirrel on the feeder. How the heck did he get there? I can't imagine it would have jumped that far?!?!? There's no way!

Then one morning I saw it. The squirrel used the metal wire as a zip line and slid over to the feeder-a distance of about 8'. I couldn't believe it. Now what to do? I am considering greasing the wire so they slip off each time their little paws grab ahold. Am I descending into madness?

22 April 2008

Morel to the story

It's that time of year again. Mushroom hunting season. Mushrooming is like hunting in that if your father did it, you'll likely do it too. If not, you don't understand the point as my wife can attest. But, since generations of our family have scoured the spring humus in woods and fence rows for bottle caps, yellow, gray and black sponges.......I continue the tradition with my kids. We've been lucky in that a few times they've come to us here in town.

We have a few locations on old family farms that prove profitable for mushroom hunting. If there is such a thing as urban legend in the country (what would that be called? rural legend?) it is the concept that you'll find mushrooms hiding under may apples. Better luck looking under apple trees and decaying elms.

But here's my little tale. With all due respect to my dad, he can come up with some crazy inventions. Now, since craziness runs on both sides of my family vs. only one on his side, I am destined to go nuts. No doubt about it. Back to my tale. Since morels mystify growers (there are no morel farms), my dad thought he might try to grow them himself, so, one spring day we arrived at my folks to find a series of small cloth tents pitched around the yard over some yellow sponge that had sprung in their woods. Dad collected the soil, capturing the spores, and put the little guys through summer, fall and winter (freezer) in hopes to get them to spring forth in spring (about 60 days later). He placed the birthing soil in totes in a dark, cool bedroom of their house and waited.

That's when I stepped in. I had some fake morels made out of clay that I placed in the totes one time on a visit and left quietly not saying a word. For a few seconds early the next morning my dad thought he had a breakthrough. Then he was mad......almost as mad as I was when he backed into my mustang. Moral of the story? When in a family of jokers and pranksters-doubt all things.

21 April 2008

a happier deer story

For the first time in almost 200 entries I received a negative response from a reader regarding the shooting story (sorry mom)............so, ya'll must know out there I'm a big nature loving kind of guy and hopefully it didn't offend anyone's sensitivity on that front. It was sorta a "shout out" to some of my hunter friends. Me? Never fired a gun in my life-unless you count a bb gun.

So, to prove I'm more of a warm hearted guy.......I share this story with you from last Thanksgiving.

We were at my folks house out in the country, situated in a big woods. While we finished dinner, snow began to fall perfectly across the landscape. We looked toward the back of the woods and a group of about 20 wild turkeys emerged from the deep woods beyond. Soon a young buck walked up from the path too, in the middle of the turkeys and began to jump around, kicking his back legs up playing with turkeys.....head down and rack swinging like he was fighting a rival buck, but clearly in jest.

It was one of the most stunning displays of the animal kingdom I have seen and will cherish it forever.

Even more remarkable is that when my dad was a kid........it was rare to see a white tailed deer, being almost extinct in Indiana by 1945......and when I was a kid, even more rare to see a wild turkey. And here stood my son, drinking in a sight that probably hadn't been seen in the Hoosier state in nearly a hundred years.

shake update

I thought I would update readers, given that more information has been made available on the earthquake last week.

1) it was a 5.2, not 5.4

2) evidently there is a little heard of Wabash fault line running up from the New Madrid fault, into southwest Indiana that our quake happened along.

3) racking my brain as to why I was the only Hoosier who did not feel the quake, I came to the conclusion that what I thought was the street sweeper going past the house early that morning was indeed the ground moving.

4) Did you happen to catch NBC interviewing folks in Indy at a donut shop about the quake? The reporter concluded that even an earthquake cannot come between Hoosiers and their donuts. Gee, thanks.

and 5) my brother called me Thursday morning wanting some cash after being locked up for MDA. I encouraged him, just like Paul & Silas, to pray for an earthquake to open the cell. Now that's faith! True story.

18 April 2008

Details of our Past

I thought I would provide some pictures for the weekend ahead. Enjoy.

Do we really believe this?

OK, let's see if this entry rattles some folks.
In case you've missed it, there has been a case filed against the state of Indiana by the ACLU for having "In God We Trust" on our license plates. Evidently the decision by the courts was that Indiana was not in violation of church and state.....yadda, yadda, yadda. Because they didn't force anyone to take the plates.

This I take issue with because we didn't request the In God We Trust plate...they just mailed it to us when we got our new car this year. So, by default we were forced to take it.

Now, before you send me hate mail. I do not condone what the ACLU did-that was stupid. I also don't condone the state of Indiana putting this phrase on our plates. The reason? We don't really believe it or live it in this state or country. Our family does.....but we don't need it on our license plate to let random motorists know we trust in our Lord and Savior, our Father, our Creator.

"oh hey, look, they trust in God......that's good...maybe I should bump them a little and test their trust! heh heh"

Evidently South Carolina suffers from the same need to place this on their plates too. The fact of the matter is that the phrase, In God We Trust, is misused and has lost its meaning. Just like saying God bless you when someone sneezes. Oh, we like to think that our country and state trust in God......but do we really?

Here's a comment left by someone after the court sided with the state:

Score one for what is right for a change. If anything is unconstitutional in this county or state it is this prejudice group of hemorrhoids. Tell the ACLU to just KISS THIS

Yeah, I bet this guy trusts in God........God must be real happy with you, sir.

How about if we put "Love your Neighbor" on our plates, or how about John 3:16? That wouldn't be as in your face as In God we trust, huh? Can't really wrap the flag around those. What would America look like if we did trust in God?

Great Shake of 08

WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) — A 5.4-magnitude earthquake that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region rocked people up to 450 miles away early Friday, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest temblor. The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was felt in such distant cities as Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Des Moines, Iowa, 450 miles northwest of the epicenter, but there were no early reports of injuries or significant damage.

Evidently there was an earthquake this morning. Did you feel it at 5:37 am EST? I have to say, I was disappointed. I not only was awake, but out of bed and in the shower. I never felt it. My wife said she was awakened by it and at first thought it was a train-but she said the bed shook instead of swayed like it does with the train (no smart comments about the bed shaking).

I met a buddy for coffee and it was all the talk at the coffee shop. I believe our last quake was in 1987. Reports are that it caused skyscrapers in Indy to sway. There are a few fault lines in our dining room plaster ceiling and walls.....I didn't notice a substantial increase in these fault lines.

In all seriousness, I can't imagine the devastation that would occur if any part of Indiana was subjected to a strong quake-there would be nothing left of most of our main streets, downtowns and courthouses. So, where were you during the great shake of 08?

17 April 2008

fast cars & loud music

I was changing out some cds, desperately looking for some better work out music than the Celtic bagpipes cd I actually found myself working out to a few weeks ago, when I realized how out of date my cd library is. I only found a couple of rock/pop cds......well, one to be honest. I put it in the player and cranked it. It was a single from U2....Kiss Me, Kill Me, Thrill Me-the Batman theme from 1995.

1995? NO!, it couldn't have been that long ago that I had gone out and blew all my money on a brand new Mustang GT with the megabass stereo system into which the first cd I played was this one from U2? The same year, in anticipation of owning this beautiful black baby, I would go out and blow another $120 on a pair of gargoyle sunglasses?

Then it hit me. I am that old. Dang it! My neighbor was in our backyard with his daughter and my son (we're sorta the neighborhood playground) while I had the music cranked. I opened the back door and he asked if everything was ok in there. Yeah, just reliving some youth. Sigh. Unfortunately my neighbor has a car just like my baby. Jerk.

My car and I traveled part of route 66 together, a long road trip to Banf NP in Alberta, Canada, lots of dates......ok, a few......and lots of drives. My dad backed into her within a week of me bringing her home. That was painful. I entrusted the keys to a friend who betrayed me and took her out for a spin when she should have been parked in his driveway. But, she always came back to me. Then one day the lease was up and I decided she and I had grown apart. It was difficult, but I traded her in for a new F-150 extended cab......black.

I'm going to go home and play U2 one more time.

The following entry contains disturbing imagery and may not be suitable for all viewers

Shooting in River City!

A stroll down the railroad tracks ended in a violent death for one river city resident last night.

Approximately 6:55 p.m. last night police were called to the 300 block near the viaduct to investigate what appeared to be an accident with the victim still twitching. Witnesses told the police that they saw the victim leap from the railroad viaduct. Traces of hair were found on a temporary construction sign near the railroad bridge. It was determined that the victim leaped from the bridge, landed on the construction sign, possibly breaking its neck, then fell to the ground.

Police made a determination that the victim was without hope for improvement and consequently put the river city resident down. The incident had a circus-like atmosphere as dozens of neighbors, including many children, witnessed the officer pull his weapon and fire the fatal shot.

Police replayed the incident for those who gathered, at one point all three officers simultaneously pointing to the bridge, then to the sign, then at the victim now laying motionless on the sidewalk. This incident, while similar, still does not compare to the great train derailment and subsequent mercy killings of several bovine on the grounds of a nearby elementary school during the 1960's with horrified children watching out their classroom windows.

The victim was placed on a rear mounted rack on the back of a jeep and taken away.

16 April 2008

warming up

Just a couple of pics from the warm up. Any idea of the species? I'll give a hint on one, it gets its name from the pungent smell it produces.

the Mystery Hole

Just had to stick in this picture since I mentioned this roadside attraction earlier.

I believe we were in West Virginia.

15 April 2008

my conversation with God this morning

God & I had a little chat this morning. He sat me down around 6:00 and gave me this half-time locker room get your butt in gear talk:


Oh, now what God?

13 "HR, don’t you know that I’ve chosen you to be the salt of your community? If you lose your flavor, how is river city going to be seasoned? You'll be good for nothing except to be tossed aside and trampled under by those who choose to do harm."

You've gotten my attention, Sir.

14 "HR, let me tell you something, you are the light of this town; just like a city set on a hill can’t be hidden. 15 You wouldn’t turn on a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a table, to give light to everyone in your home. 16 You also, son, must let your light shine in river city, that folks will see the good work I’ve called you to and in it, recognize Me."

If you didn't recognize it, the passage above is out of Matthew 5. I landed in the Sermon on the Mount a couple months ago and have stayed there. I've picked up little insights here and there, but, for some reason, this morning went a little differently. I must admit, I've never read scripture before with putting myself into Christ's directives. It became very personal, very humbling.....and very encouraging.

I want to encourage you to go up and reread the passage putting yourself and your town in my place. Maybe God will show up in your locker room too.

Sure bets only

my far more attractive than me wife, having lost her bet, in Madison, IN

I'm not into gambling, which, before you complain I don't contribute to Indiana's well-being because of this conviction.....there was a time I was tempted, feeling lucky on my birthday I went to buy a scratch off and the gas station was out. I took it as a sign.

My mom once won like $50 bucks off a ticket someone gave her. She felt convicted and thought she should give it to the church, but felt conflicted because it was dirty money. Knowing her, she probably gave the 50 plus another 50 just to ease her conscience.

I must confess though I have made a couple of bets in my life. The first was a $50 bet against my buddy back in high school over the breading at Long John Silvers. I lost.

You would think that sting of losing would have prevented future bets, but 16 years later, going through our first blizzard together, my wife and I bet on how much snow we'd get. I bet over 12" and won. The winner got to choose a weekend away to a location of his/her choosing. I had been wanting to drive the Michigan Road to Madison (more on Madison later). We were there over St. Patty's day and enjoyed an evening at a local wine cellar with Celtic music; she won anyway because she got to spend the weekend with me, right?

Feeling that I was on a role, but wanting to make sure my bets were sure, I accepted another bet 6 years later. A fellow republican councilman wanted a vote trade and expected me to go against something that greatly enhances the entrance into river city.

When I said no, he said "I'll bet you $100 they'll tear those things out in 4 years!" I said "well, I'm not a betting man, but I'll accept so long as the $100 goes to a non-profit of our choosing"

He accepted. I can't think of a better place for this grumpy old republican to send his money to than Hillary's campaign. Victory is sweet.

14 April 2008

the church, holy, immortal and.....emergent?

Saturday we were sitting around my brother's table......he's a senior minister in the Middlebury area in what I would call a modern denominational church.........and he asked the question, "so what would a new church, a real church, look like?"

My reply was "the more interesting thing is that that question, and this conversation is happening in more and more places"

The hot term right now is "emergent church". I had to ask my brother exactly what that means, I thought I understood, but I didn't go to seminary-or preachin' school as I like to call it. Emergent church simply means the trends, the culture coming out of the universal church right now. To my knowledge, this has been happening for generations, but we never called it emergent.

My brother and I grew up in a large, charismatic church back when those were the edgy side of Christianity. Both of us have gravitated toward a more traditional, but still contemporary, church setting. We know what the mega-church can and can't do for the individual spiritual needs of a person. We both know the relational importance within the church and the doctrinal disconnect being experienced by many in and outside of the church today. But I think we're both stumped at where this is going....but we can see the winds of change a blowin'.

Blame my generation for this........or give us credit depending on what comes out the other side. I believe that while we need to embrace the importance and biblical mandate of the church, I think it's time the way we "do church" changes. I'm not referring to throwing out tradition, but rather that people within the church model Christ outside the four walls too. And it is time to accept doctrinal differences, but join arms together to end hunger and poverty.......and addictions and to walk with people in trouble.........to love our neighbor (gee, where have I heard that one?)

It's time to get back to the real roots of Christianity, not what many have contorted it to be. And I'm not just saying this because I like to wear sandals.

bad April memories.....

Oklahoma City

Outside of the uncanny tendency over the last four generations for males with our surname to pass away during this time in April......I credit it to tax day........there is another reason why this month brings unfortunate memories for me and to the national psyche.

1993 - the siege at Waco, 1995 - the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City, and 1999 - the Columbine shootings. I remember very clearly where I was at each one of these moments creating our national history. I remember watching news streams come in from Waco, from Oklahoma City, and remember hearing the unthinkable over the radio from Columbine. All of a sudden my generation-having escaped the grief of MLK and JFK, had to cope with the knowledge that in our own country, we were no longer safe. And we saw physical evidence of this as barricades and bollards were quickly installed around courthouses throughout our state.

I can't comprehend why these things happen. I cannot understand why hate builds to the point that innocent people must die because of misdirected feelings of anger and insecurity. I can't understand why I can't walk up to the front doors of our old historic courthouse and walk in the way generations of community folk did-not being redirected to a side door with metal detectors and guards.

When our family drove route 66, we took time to pay homage to the Oklahoma City, Murrah Federal Building site. The memorial was tastefully done for a very spiritual, reflective experience. Of highest note was the Survivor Tree.....the old elm that survived the blast and was incorporated into the memorial. When we visited in 2003, September 11th was already a memory. It was hard for me to ponder the rationale for the way I felt about Oklahoma City, with the total loss of feeling for 9/11 still fresh in my mind.

Do you think we'll ever return to an age of innocence?

11 April 2008

at what point does community divide?

at some point, if you've been reading HH very long, you've probably figured out I am a community sort of guy. I believe very much in developing community because in it we support each other and become stronger and more respectful to each other.

Community is a good thing. Isn't it?

I've written about the farming community I grew up in and my family's role in that. I've realized and cherished my own role in the various "communities" I found myself in. I understand the importance of the relational impact and security community represents. With some blogs I've been visiting recently....I can see where a whole new so called "community" can develop, even over cyberspace.

But what drives me to near madness is this "community" intoxication the church is experiencing. Everything is community.......community groups, cell groups that are community, leadership teams that are community, community worship, children's community......all promoted by the single, four walled church. It's becoming more "communal" and that's not a good thing.

To be honest, I've got my friends at church.......but the church itself isn't "community" to me. Sure, we can care for each other and develop strong relationships inside the church-but unless I'm wrong-I think we were called to be light and salt....outside the four walls.

At some point being "community" separates us from our community.

I've got several-lots-maybe even more-solid relationships outside my church. Friends of ours that can care for & have fun with us. I'm not saying I don't need the church.....but I don't want the church to consume me! I see that happen with friends in our own church and in many evangelical churches I'm familiar with.

Maybe this is just my anti-establishment side coming through.

Hoosier & loser rhyme, unfortunately

I was always the anti-establishment kid wherever I landed. Still am today. I really didn't get into trouble-but, perfectly a gentleman who knew how to get the job done...kinda the way the Gambino family does. I certainly wouldn't consider myself......a........loser. Not in Indiana, anyway.

Then I went to a small private university in Michigan where only a handful of kids were from the midwest, let alone Indiana, and suddenly I didn't feel so cool. There were strange looking kids from the east and west coasts and from what seemed like every country under the sun. But I was the one who stuck out.

By the third year into my major I was in good with most everyone. I blended well, still conducting myself like the Godfather, but a little more hip. Then my friend Leo, who was a strange fellow with long hair from Brazil realized that one song's lyrics could be a lot of fun if you just traded loser for "Hoosier"

Dang it!

Leo was a big fan of Beck (remember them?) and had their Mellow Gold album which had the song "Loser" on it and he would play it over and over again. I didn't understand most of the lyrics, even as I look back and read them, but everyone in the studio had great fun singing....

Soy un perdedor
I'm a Hoosier baby, so why don't you kill me?

(Double barrel buckshot)

Soy un perdedor
I'm a Hoosier baby, so why don't you kill me?

Three years of work trying to be cool-down the drain. Funny thing is, I still find myself singing it often. And if you know the song, it will be stuck in your head too.

How about your Hoosier experience?

10 April 2008

....come to the dark side!

man, I wish I were a democrat this year......they've got all the good races.


Hillary vs. Obama & Schellinger vs. Long-Thompson. And what do we have? Mitch and McCain, or M&Ms. There are no choices for us republicans this year, except a few local races in which it is becoming more and more clear that there is a power grab going on by our local corporate republicans.

I was talking with my neighbor about the elections and he mentioned he might just go in and pull a D in the primary in order to get the republican stink off of him. I kinda think he's onto something. More and more younger conservatives-the busters and mosaics for those of you who like generation titles-are becoming embarrassed about being republican.....I'm not kidding here, I'm hearing it a lot!

I think of chief concern is this.......if those guys are republican, I don't want to be associated with that! My neighbor was speaking of Carl Rove specifically here. I can think of a whole lot of other names starting with my own city councilman, to the governor, to the president.

What a mess the republicans have made......basically alienating a whole new generation or two.

09 April 2008


Recap on Sunday' sermon. Forgive my "message" version of it:

Christ says "I am the bread of life, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can not enter the kingdom"

Many of his disciples, being offended by what seemed like cannibalism and totally out of line with OT teaching, left him. So Christ turns to the 12 remaining and asks "are you offended too?"

You have to know the personality of the elder who gave the sermon Sunday. He's kinda like Wendel Berry, as I am sure he would appreciate that comparison. In no way would he want to offend anyone sitting in the congregation-in fact, in praying prior to the message, he chose words that would make you think...........

Oh man, here it comes! Hell fire! This does not sound like Elder T!

But what a great presentation of truth. The leading question was.....what of Christ's words, what of his teachings are you offended by. Man, I really had to sit there and think.

Turn the other cheek......pardon my french, but that one really pisses me off God. While I may not look like it, I am the throw some punches kind of guy (note previous Fight Club spot). That offends me Christ!

But I have the same response that the 12 had when Christ asked them if they were offended........."to whom would we go?" I just need to accept it. He has the words of life. Truth is truth. There may be others I am offended by too, but that one really sticks in my craw and for now, that's the one I'm going to concentrate on.

Thanks Elder T. So, what offends you about Christ's teachings?

yearning for a giant ball of twine

What makes us so fascinated with roadside oddities? Is it that they speak to a primal sort of need to explore the bizarre or is it just the break from the mundane and vanilla that we need on a 12, 24 or 48 hour trip?

I've been to the Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK, Wall Drug & the Corn Palace of SD, Paul Bunyan & Blue, the big ox of Bimidji, MN, and the Mystery Hole in WV and Mystery Spot in MI (both of which sound like something in my Men's Health Magazines).

I'm sure Indiana has our share of roadside oddities........but for whatever reason they aren't as prevalent in Rand McNally as other states. Help me out here.....what are some Hoosier curiosities? What are some of your favorite crazy road trip stops?

08 April 2008

when the messenger kills the message

We've all heard it said, particularly in christian circles, "hey, I'm just the messenger" or "don't kill the messenger" when related to hard truths we are uncomfortable with.

But what happens when it is the messenger that kills the message?

Anyone who has been in church very long, understands this can happen so easily. We get to know the human side of the pastor or teacher and then all of a sudden his words have a lot less integrity.......somehow the truth seems, well, hypocritical from the source.

A friend of mine from Romania stopped me after service sunday and we talked for maybe 20-30 minutes about stuff. Sometimes I have a hard time getting his meaning to things because there's a bit of a language barrier...but somewhere-outa nowhere-he says something to this affect:

"so, my friend says to me, why do you let that guy playing guitar and speaking keep you from church?"

"because he's said some things about me that aren't true-he lies"

"church isn't about that guy, you go for God, not that guy"

So, my Romanian friend is back at church. And he had a timely message for me. The true source of the message we hear on Sunday mornings is from our creator. While there may be times we have to separate that message from the messenger, we should never deny truth.

We're all human. We all make mistakes and sometimes continue doing so despite constant confrontal and correction. I know often times I've screwed up the message by my actions as the messenger......and I ask for grace. But truth is truth-regardless of who says it. There's a reason why the truth of God has been around so long. It isn't human.

Hitting the road.....

If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way-take the highway that's the best. Get your kicks on.....yeah, you got it now, don't ya?

It's been 5 years since the family headed down historic route 66. And 5 years since we've taken a big family trip-but the fam is heading out west again, this time to the Rockies, and I am quite certain it will be even more enjoyable. Especially for our little girl who wasn't a year old yet last time.

I love old highways, as anyone who has read this blog can attest. I know the Lincoln Highway leads out west, but I think we'll interstate it this time. I love being out west-that's the more important thing. Something about the big open starkness, the mountains.....heading out on the road and the drive is as important as, or is the destination.

And there is something that can be said for getting out of Indiana. Don't get me wrong, I love this place, but there is a whole other world out there that Hoosiers need to experience. If for no other reason, than when the CBS news interviews you in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, you don't look like a slack-jawed yocal with a comment like this "that's near the craziest derned thing I've ever seen!" As was recorded this morning on CBS, with identifying text on the screen "Indiana Tourist"

yeah, this is why my friends in college poked fun at us. Pics from 66 at the top.

07 April 2008

do as I say, not as your youth leader does

Shortly after this picture was taken, one freshly graduated youth group senior fell 15' down a rocky slope at Shades State Park at one of my annual senior guys canoe trips.

I can think of several prime examples of why I shouldn't be allowed to work with youth. And despite these serious short-comings, my wife, as a director of a local youth cooperative of churches, insisted I be at her side. Sometimes I took the lead, or took over during maternity leaves. By and by, I enjoyed it and there were about a dozen guys I got pretty close to during the 5 years of torture. Many of those guys still swing by the house, email, etc. today.

I had no desire to work with youth. My own youth group experience was not so great-I just knew what I DIDN'T want it to be. I found myself learning along the way, and I have to hope that something I said stuck.

I remember a conversation with one guy, a few years after high school, when I asked......man, what went wrong with so and so......did I encourage that behavior? Wasn't he in the same room with you when I said don't do that kinda stuff? The response was simple, "yeah, but you did your job-it's up to them to work things out with God"

Maybe this is good training for raising kids. As much as we pour into them, they will have to make their own judgement call on things. I just hope, just like the guys from the youth group, they won't mind talking thru those issues with someone older, and hopefully wiser. Wiser than me!

messages from the weekend

I noticed a flick in the new releases section of the video store-Conspiracy with Top Gun & Batman actor Val Kilmer (man, he's getting old). I hadn't heard of it, and 20 minutes into the film, I knew why. Talk about a low budget, made for cable film! I really don't mind films with political messages embedded into the plot-but let me figure it out. I don't need a 5 minute synopsis of the evil of the american corporate empire by the distressed and rescued beauty.

What was a little scary was the realization that the blatant racist remarks made by the villain in the film, which seemed rather falsely explosive........are comments I hear, right here in river city, regarding our Latino immigrants. Not good-the film either. Save your dime, pass on Conspiracy.

A film I had been wanting to see and finally took the opportunity was Fight Club. Not what I expected. But still pretty good. If you've not seen it, then this isn't going to make any sense to you.

Not long into the movie, I made the comment to my wife.......hmmm, I could see (my buddy) and I doing that! And laughed about it. By the end of the film, after I realized his buddy was his alter ego, I started to question my own sanity and tried to figure out if a couple of the guys I hang out with really exist, or, since they're 10 yrs+ my junior, are they just my alter ego-reflections of a youth now gone and since they're in top notch shape-what I'd like to be?

If you ever see me punching myself on the street.......call the guys in white coats.

shhhhh....don't pray so loud

I get together on occasion with a couple guys for breakfast on Saturday morning. They're fellow backpackers & faithful readers, so I hope they enjoy this reflection from this past weekend.

Not sure why, but more recently I've felt convicted about making sure we pray before meals when we go out. Our kids normally take turns giving thanks before meals, so now, they say grace over the white noise of pots and dishes clanking and other patrons around us. Most people still think it's sweet.

It seems like more often that not, I'm the one that offers to say grace when the 3 guys get together, but this time the tall guy jumped the gun and offered. He started in and I thought, dang, tall guy, we're sitting right here-we can hear you fine. But it wasn't that tall guy was abnormally loud......it's just that I'm abnormally quiet when dining out and offering grace.

I'm not sure why that is. I'm not ashamed, am I? God knows I've never had to tell people here in river city I'm a christian-they've just sorta figured that one out. So, prayer just naturally follows, right? Thanks tall guy-it was a good bro prayer!

At what decibel level do you pray when dining out? Do you?

04 April 2008

40 years ago.....

If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be reflecting on the assassination of Martin Luther King, or on Bobby Kennedy in the 40th year marking their deaths, I would have said you were crazy. But, I've grown up a little since then and can see how their influence and unrealized potential served our country greatly. And they are missed.

In the same year I mark the 40th anniversary of my birth, our country must mark the senseless murders of two men who shaped the nation. When people ask when I was born, I say "in the same year two great men were gunned down". I have to admit a private fear-it isn't lost on me that 40 years after King we have the first black man as the potential presidential nominee.....and that there are still a lot of racists out there. I often find myself saying short prayers for the Senator from Illinois, regardless of his politics.

Indiana will be forever tied by King's death to Bobby Kennedy because of Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis the day King was killed-40 years ago today. Many credit Indianapolis' calm during the riots seen in the rest of the country to Bobby's speech.

Few men have been able to inspire our country to be better than it is, to set a vision of what could be, as these men did. I see that in Obama. And we desperately need it today.

Since I'm a big fan of U2........I'll let Bono take it from here. Pray for our country.

Pride (In The Name Of Love)
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

03 April 2008

ahhh Spring time in Indiana

Last weekend was just warm enough for the bulbs to start sprouting, crocuses bloomed and I found myself staring out the window eager to get outside and do some work. It even smelled a little like spring-you know, that fishworm smell. Ahhhhh.

We had gotten a delivery of saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation and they needed planted so I found a spot in the garden and began digging. Man, it felt good to get my hands in the soil! The layer on top was a little frozen yet, but I managed. We put in a little "victory garden" in our small backyard here in town. We really don't get much produce from it, but the kids especially like to do the planting and watch things grow. And I think that's important to experience since we are so far removed from where our food comes from anymore.

My wife has pledged to do more shopping at our farmer's market this year. It may be because I have threatened to dig up the remaining back yard for a full yard kinda garden. Wouldn't have to worry about mowing then.......just a lot of weeds.

Grant Wood is my favorite artist (American Gothic fame)-I think he captures Midwest life very well. Above is one of my favorite works of his because it is a great reflection of what happens in our back yard each spring, right here in river city.

This weekend's weather promises to be great-get out there and do some digging.

02 April 2008

invitation to a Snipe Hunt

Wilson's Snipe

American Woodcock
I'm not sure outside of the Hoosier state how much of a phenomenon snipe hunting is. I know that we had great fun with our Michigan friends, who apparently didn't understand the concept of snipe hunting.

I remember the first time someone mentioned to me the great adventure of a snipe hunt, then ultimately gave the secret away. I've enjoyed hunting with friends with whom I've never shared the real fun of the adventure with.

The problem is this..........when you're a brainiac bird guy.........you understand full well that there really is such a thing as a snipe. In fact, on our recent hike to the wetlands, Bird Man and I had to make a determination if one fowl we saw was snipe or woodcock. We decided on woodcock. Wilson's Snipe is a for-real bird who winters in the Hoosier state, but is rarely seen due to its secretive behavior and remote habitat.

So, the next time you get invited snipe hunting, take it seriously. I've attached a picture of a snipe and woodcock for comparison. I was a little leery about googling pictures for the woodcock.

01 April 2008

Help-what is this?

I came across something very disturbing in the woods. I was wondering if anyone could identify what made these marks on this tree. I don't know that a dog could have clawed it up this bad. Maybe something was tied to it to strip it? Is this man made?

Tax & Spend.....REPUBLICANS?

Whatever happened to my favorite nemeses, the enemy of all that is good and right, the tax and spend liberal Democrats? I mean, com'on, I spent anxious nights worrying in highschool and college that these guys would take over and drain my financial resources, hold me hostage to pay them more, or at the very least send some goons to rough me up.

Now it just seems that we are all suffering from a political identity crisis. If you haven't heard, sales tax just went up in Indiana today! Yeah, and while they claim property tax relief, you'll probably end up paying more in property taxes like me.

And who is behind this? Those crazy liberals? NO! It's the REPUBLICANS who are getting tax happy! Is this what Ronald Reagan meant when he said........."I didn't leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me". I feel for ya Gipper, that's how I'm starting to feel about the Republicans, albeit, they kinda threw me out.

By the way....don't drive on the toll road either. The tolls just doubled too.

Let's go for a hike

Saturday a friend and local birder.....let's call him the bird man......and I set out to hike some state wetlands near river city. This is the same guy from the owling incident. We had an impressive array of fowl sightings, so, for this bird log from the weekend I'm also including the cool ones we saw at the wetlands.

Wood ducks MF
Northern Saw-Whet Owl (this was an early morning visitor to our house)
Canada Goose 12
Mallard 4
Ring Necked Duck MF
Hooded Merganser MF
Cardinal 4
Juncos 5
Goldfinch 2
House finch 7
Mourning Dove 3
White Breasted Nuthatch 2
American Woodcock (more on this later)
Tufted Titmouse 2
Black Capped Chickadee 2
Crows 7
Turkey Vulture
Downy Woodpecker MF
Robin 2
Starlings 3
Blue Jay 2
Red Wing Blackbird 8
Grackles 5
Common Goldeneye 6
Hairy Woodpecker

All in all it was a good time. Bird Man said people wouldn't think it strange seeing two guys out in the woods if we were carrying guns, so I'm taking my great grandma's hunting rifle next time.