Saturday, December 29, 2012

Overwritten, or What I did on my Christmas Vacation

We have been very busy this holiday season, which I suppose accounts for the dearth of posts on here, but I did get the opportunity to see a couple of "holiday" movies at the theater.

The two that I was able to take in this week were Jack Reacher and The Hobbit (part 1 of 3, because Peter Jackson figured out that my family will pay ten bucks a head times three for three years in a row, instead of just one time, if he drags the story out for three long years).

I know that many have said that the Hobbit story is too long, drawn out and overwritten. I don't care. I have loved this story since my mother read it to us at the table when I was very small and since I first saw the cartoon version from the 70's. I think it is quite possible that I am the only person that likes the cartoon version from the 70's. So I recommend seeing it. It is fun, moving and visually stunning.

If you really want to see an example of overwritten, check out the Jack Reacher character in Jack Reacher.

Yes, Tom Cruise looks good at the age of 73, and it was a very entertaining movie.
But, it is hard to buy a guy that is a retired Army Major living in buses, only owning one set of clothes and bragging (on and on and on) about how free he is because he doesn't work in a cubicle or have things like a home, friends, family, etc. to time him down.

His primary past time seems to be beating the crap out of guys on buses picking on their girlfriends and washing his one set of clothes that he bought at a Goodwill store in a motel sink. He did get a very nice leather jacket from a rack of very nice leather jackets at the Goodwill store. I think that is probably the best Goodwill store ever.

Still, in spite of feeling very much like you were stuck in a novel that showcased the author's view of the ultimate anti-hobo, it is still a fun movie. Full of intrigue, action, foul deeds, Tom Cruise beating people up and shooting them dead, lawyers, cops, car chases, snipers, pretty girls and Robert Duvall. It is hard to go wrong with Robert Duvall.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sometimes it's the little things

Our new Congolese friends happened to see Emily's camo hat that she wears for the Civil Air Patrol, similar to the one pictured in this post.

They were surprised that we had a hat like this around. They told us that in Burundi, where they have been living for the past ten years, that if you wore a hat like this, you would be arrested.

I suppose that is because of all the problems that militias have caused and all the wars and deaths that East Africa has seen in the recent past.

We told them that here in America you were free to wear whatever you wanted. We did try to explain to them how ridiculous and suspicious they would look if they were in a full camo suit at the supermaket, but that they could wear it if they wanted. We have no laws dictating what we wear.

Sometimes it is the little things that make you glad you are in America!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I used to have.....

On Veteran's Day, I took a look at my shadow box from the military and took the picture posted on this page.

I compared all the ribbons, medals, janglies and stuff that I earned to the ribbons I currently wear on my uniform and I began to think about all the things I used to have and used to do.

I used to have 7 little ribbons, not I only have 3. And one of them you automatically wear, so I have only earned two of them.

At work, I used to have several employees that I was in charge of hiring and firing, sizeable budgets, marketing, etc. and I led weekly services with close to two hundred people. Now, I am in charge of myself, and that is about it.

We used to live in our favorite part of California and always had good friends that we had made hanging around our house or inviting us to theirs. Now we live in Tucson, and we have far few friends here.

So, I decided that it is not always the best thing to look at the successes of the past. It will either make you try to do things the exact same way you did then, or will make you wonder why you don't have those things anymore. The time and circumstances you are in now are different than the time and circumstances you had then. And so are the rewards, challenges and benefits.

For instance, I have found more time for my family in the past few years, and I have been able to work on being physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy. Among other good things in my life now, these are definitely worth something.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcoming the Stranger

Jesus said that when we welcome the stranger we are welcoming him (Matthew 25).

I have heard that Tucson will become the new home for about 700 refugees this year.

When I moved back to this city, I didn't know too many people. But, I had lived here before, Diane grew up here,I can read and speak the language and I was familiar with the stores, restaurants, customs and holidays.

The refugees that come here have an incredibly different experience.

I recently re-met Cherie(we first met her at Church in 1991 or 1992), the director of the Tucson Refugee Ministry. I learned from her that I could befriend an partner a refugee family. So, I contacted some friends and some of them graciously agreed to spend some time being a friend for a family that might be lost in our strange new world.

We meet our assigned family on Saturday for the very first time. I think we are all a little nervous and a little curious about what we will do with this family and how we will communicate with them. Our family is from the Congo and primarily speaks Swahili.

But, I think we will probably get as much out of getting to know them as they will from us.

If you are here in Tucson, be sure to check out the Tucson Refugee Ministry to find out a little more and see how you might be involved. Or you can join up with us.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

For Greater Glory


For Greater Glory

Yesterday, Diane and I took some time out to watch this movie, featuring Andy Garcia, Peter O'Toole and Eva Longoria, among others.

Ok, we found the movie a little long and somehow off pace. But, I am not much of a film critic, so I mostly sat back and was entertained.

Even though the movie might have been a little off a pace, the story itself is fascinating.

It is based on the true story of the Cristero War in Mexico.

After the revolution in Mexico, the The 1917 Constitution "outlawed teaching by the Church, gave control over Church matters to the state, put all Church property at the disposal of the state, outlawed religious orders, outlawed foreign born priests, gave states the power to limit or eliminate priests in their territory, deprived priests of the right to vote or hold office, prohibited Catholic organizations which advocated public policy, prohibited religious publications from commenting on public policy, prohibited clergy from religious celebrations and from wearing clerical garb outside of a church and deprived citizens of the right to a trial for violations of these provisions."

However, these were not strictly enforced until the Calles Presidency. Calles was opposed to the Church and believed it was in the way of social progress. Marxist voices in Mexico were also opposed to the Catholic Church and the belief that they held back the country and should not be allowed a voice of influence.

As a result of the enforcing of these laws, Catholics began to protest, which led to violent reprisals by the government, which led to armed uprisings by Catholics.

The movie chronicles these uprisings and the hiring of General Enrique Gorostieta Velarde (Andy Garcia's character) to lead the war, as well as the activity of Jose Sanchez Del Rio, who was later beatified (made a saint) by the Catholic Church.

The War ended when the Church made a deal with the Mexican Government, brokered by our government, which is also shown in the movie. Some sources say that around 90,000 people died in the war, with a further 5,000 executed in violation of the agreement afterwards by the Mexican Government.

This is a historic event that I was entirely unaware of until I saw this movie. I know that their are still many countries where the faithful are still killed and silenced for their faith, but it is disturbing that such outright persecution took place so close to us so recently.

Controversy Abounds!

Just for your fun, here are a few more I have been taking in over the last several weeks:


33 Questions About American History You are Not Supposed to Ask

Rwanda, Inc. : how a devastated nation became an economic model for the developing world 

The victims' revolution : the rise of identity studies and the closing of the liberal mind / Bruce Bawer.

The Liberator