Monday, April 23, 2012

Zorbing in Church

Melinda Nagy |

Sunday morning at Radiant we watched a video introduction to the third part of the sermon series. To illustrate The Journey Falters the video followed the seeker into the desert where rocks begin to rain down on his head. At that moment the pastor came running up the aisle with a huge “boulder” bearing down on him. It was a zorb, a giant inflatable ball painted to look like a boulder and propelled by a man inside; a bit of Cirque du Soleil in Sunday morning worship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

96 and rising

Basting away again in Ocotilloville
Searchin’ for the most perfect malt
Some people claim that this desert’s aflame
But I know when to exalt.
Ocotillo bursting into praise

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Over the Top

Ragne Kabanova |

What did the morning worship service at Radiant Church in Surprise, AZ and my lunchtime spumoni ice cream stack at Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale have in common? They were both over the top.
The pastor filling the pulpit last week galloped up the church aisle on a horse. This week a different pastor rappelled from the ceiling down a rope into the pulpit. This shenanigan illustrated the sermon series, The Journey.  I loved it!

My spumoni was dressed up like a Vegas showgirl. All the good stuff you’d expect to be packed inside this Italian delicacy—pistachios, chocolate, cherries and marshmallows—piled like bling on top of the ice cream. I ate it up (with some help).

  Such drama is not to everyone’s taste. Poorly executed, theatrics can overwhelm the message and dull the palate for what truly nourishes us. In the hands of talented people who respect the elements they are working with, the results can bless our spirits.

When the Ark of the Lord entered Jerusalem King David did not give a speech, he leaped and danced before the Lord. His wife Michel looked down from her window and was filled with contempt. To be sure Michel was not predisposed to appreciate her husband’s antics. She had been returned to her marriage by force.  Still, God saw fit to judge a heart barren of any appreciation with a barren womb.

I can’t wait to see what will happen in the pulpit next week. It involves a rock.

2 Samuel 6:16 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hee haw!

horsing around in Wickenburg

The Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ is billed as Arizona’s most western museum.  Apparently Caballeros is Spanish for “dude” because Wickenburg is the dude ranch capital of world.  Dudes from all over the world ride the Wickenburg trails next week. The clink of spurs on the pavement was the tipoff.

The museum’s Cowgirl Up! Art exhibit was impressive. Unfortunately photography was prohibited so you’ll have to take my word for it or hit the trail to Wickenburg yourself sometime before May 6, 2012. 

The soulful eyes of a young Yavapai girl; the masculine strength of a cowboy toting a bale of hay and impressing the heck out of his young grandson; the galloping abandon of women on horseback feeling their oats in a brass sculpture titled Girls Night Out; the in your face smug bunny; these all made me yearn to paint, sculpt or saddle up.  Lack of talent and courage preclude me from doing so but for a second I pulled a brush oiled with petal pink across the bunny’s cheek. I reigned in my horse with admirable expertise.

Weather got you down? Go to a museum. 
Desert Caballeros Western Museum general store exhibit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Life is tough, and then...

The equivalent to “suck it up” in my generation was “life is tough, and then you die.” That appears to be the theme of “Death” by Shelly Kagan, reviewed in this morning’s WSJ. In the review, Andrew Stark summarizes the Buddhist view and the existentialist take nicely. 

Summarizing a summary is a good writing exercise, so here goes:

A practicing Buddhist works at letting go of self focus. When he dies, there is nothing to lose. For the existentialist, self is all there is. The end of self (death) gives value to a life well lived. In the philosophical sense, nothing is important to the Buddhist and making good choices about how to spend the time you have is important to the existentialist. Two paths: not doing and doing. There is much to admire in these views, humility and courage among them.

This clarity helps me better understand my own path. For those who practice the Christian faith, death is not the end. Self focus requires a modification to love God and your neighbor as you love yourself. One day after death you will stand before your God and explain yourself.

To the existentialist point, many scriptures guide us in the area of choices. The difference to the Christian is that it is God who sets the agenda and not we ourselves.

For the Christian, how we live our lives determines what kind of an experience we will have after death. I would so rather hear my King say, “well done good and faithful servant” than hear fading applause or nothing at all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Twitter Block

Anthony Hathaway|

Tout is sweet, mais
c’est mute, my tweet.
Been quiet all week
I’ve nothing to speak!

Some birds announce their presence in the field with piercing, joyous cries of victory that rip through the sky and send their prey scurrying for cover. We stop and listen, enthralled. Other birds hide in trees and chirp a limited repertoire; a few notes, insistent, incessant and interminable as a car alarm or a one-radio-station small town. Annoyed, we tune them out. Then there are those that go out on a limb to deliver refreshing song on a gentle breeze. We tune our breath to their song.

I’m a new bird on the block trying to find my voice. I don’t aspire to rip the sky with awesome proclamation. I don’t want to annoy my friends. I just want to chirp a little 140 character ditty that refreshes, amuses, or inspires. Okay, truth. I also want to garner the interest of an agent, a publisher and an audience for my novel.

I’ve never suffered from writers block, but I’m developing a bad case of Twitter block (see my stats). More truth.  I’m a choral singer, happy to weave my song into the larger work.  Ask me to open my beak and emit a solo tweet and it’s not pretty.  

I don’t think I need a social media seminar. I think I need voice lessons.