Thursday, August 21, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Even as I write this post, the movers are headed our way. After 9 years in Athens and 2 more in Tirana, Albania, Janice and I are preparing to return home to the US and to take up residence again in the great state of Texas. While we received much help in getting ready for the language and cultural acquisition upon departing the States and heading overseas, precious little attention is offered to help us to be ready to re-enter the country in which we lived most of our days. But, I digress.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
I could hardly have imagined the impact of an event an ocean away from me, since my self-absorbed world was …, well, self-absorbed. September 3, 1967 may have little significance for you, but it was a revolutionary day for the country of Sweden. I have no data regarding church attendance in that Scandinavian country on that particular Lord’s Day, but something akin to a modern-day miracle happened early on that morning.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Those who vociferously bemoan the disastrous decline in what was once considered polite, civil discourse might well spend a few well-chosen words of grief over the corruption of common communication. In addition to the sharp descent of civil conversation in the public electronic square, is it grammatically correct, always, insistently and increasingly to be angry?
It is actually rare for authentic friends to complain publically to the unfriendly world of sleeplessness or send out detailed reports of intimate toilet habits to be shared with a host of so-called friends and many other unsuspecting passersby. If the tin-alley wordsmith once suggested of friendship that “it’s the perfect blend-ship,” there seems less and less to blend, so little longing for harmony. Gibran, after all, said, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” But, in our days, we seek uniformity of thinking and conformity of doing from our erstwhile friends.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
One day I made a home visit with an Albanian family. Their tiny apartment held a family of 7. In typical Albanian hospitality, they welcomed me and offered sweets and juice. Immediately, the family pet entered the room. As a seasoned pastor, I recognize the importance of acknowledging family pets. I have admired more puppies and cats than you can imagine! But, I was shocked when this pet strutted in and hopped into my lap because the beloved companion was a chicken!
Monday, January 27, 2014
In 2007, John Maloof went to
a storage unit auction, placed a winning bid of $380 and won the rights to a
cardboard box filled with never-developed photo negatives. A real estate agent
and President of the Jefferson Park Historical Society in Chicago, Illinois,
Maloof initially bought 30,000 black & white film negatives, placed on the
auction block because their owner was behind on storage rent payments for the
locker in which they had been kept for over 50 years. He would eventually
purchase over 130,000 of the undeveloped snapshots made in the fifties and
sixties by a Chicago woman named Vivian Maier.
Since developing the massive archive of negatives, John Maloof has introduced the world to the photographic work of the hitherto unknown nanny and amateur photographer. This remarkably talented woman is being hailed as the twentieth century’s premier street photographer. The spotlight of international media attention has illuminated her work through exhibitions in New York, London. Los Angeles, Oslo and Hamburg and a BBC documentary. Her poignant shots of everyday life in the American urban and suburban setting of the 50's and 60's seem, to many, to capture the soul and essence of the times. Many now refer to the woman as a “poet of suburbia,” or “Mary Poppins with a camera.”
And yet, for years, most of her work remained locked up in a storage unit. Two years after John Maloof bought the negatives, he discovered her obituary. At the age of 83, before her great talent was fully discovered, she died from complications resulting from a fall on the ice.
One wonders why Vivian Maier never developed her artistic photos. If she could not pay her storage rent, perhaps she lacked the funds to pay for film developing. Maybe she lacked confidence in her work, was insecure and hesitant to pursue her artistic talent or afraid to risk public criticism. Maybe life got in the way and other things which seemed more important kept her from getting around to it. It’s possible that, in her mature years, she regarded her youthful photos as nothing more than the naïve and foolish idealism of adolescence. Perhaps someone in a position of power over her insisted that she had no talent, that her pictures were a waste or that she should spend her time and money on something more sensible. We’ll never know.
Oh God, give us more people like John Maloof who are willing to risk a bid and bring the unexposed treasure and worth of others to the light. And, pray God, may their undeveloped potential be discovered before they die!
Friday, January 17, 2014
I found a Waffle House nearby. A gaggle of late-night patrons filled the booths, so I grabbed a counter seat. From snatches of overheard conversation, I knew that my fellow diners were oilfield workers and regulars at this particular eatery. After placing my order, my sitting-down place being weary from the drive, I rose and began to read the material pasted on the grease-filled walls of this tiny, but hospitable place. Several worn posters celebrated Waffle House’s service to the public for over 50 years. This brand has been serving America’s short-order food needs with a largely unchanged menu since 1955.
Politicians, pundits, preachers and others in the public square too frequently present life’s challenges as though there are only two ways to go - their way or the highway! Because we have always dressed our hamburgers one way, it may be too easy for us to assume that there is no other way. When we face that old, familiar besetting sin or seemingly intractable social problem, surely we would benefit from considering the possibility that there may be other, better approaches to handling it. Just because we have yet to discover a cure for the common cold, there is no reason to assume that we have exhausted the list of potential solutions.