Friday, January 2, 2009

Bible Trivia - 1/2/2009

Question: Which ruler unwilling had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den?

Answer: Darius the Mede. (Daniel 6)

Comments: In the famous story of Daniel surviving the Lion's Den, the ruler who ordered Daniel's punishment was Darius the Mede. Darius is the third ruler listed in the Book of Daniel and his inclusion has been problematic for historians. Historically "Darius the Mede" is mentioned in only in relation to this story in the book of Daniel, the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (370-100), and Jewish Midrash material. Otherwise, he is not known from any primary historical sources.

So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two. (Daniel 5:31, NASB)

There have been numerous apologetic approaches to Darius, all of which entail renaming the otherwise unknown Darius the Mede as some known figure from the time.

Note: this portrait of Daniel was created by Phillip Ratner.

Word of the Day - 1/2/2008


Plantar is an adjective which means of or pertaining to the sole of the foot.

In Deuteronomy, Moses assures the Israelites that wherever they left plantar prints, they would one day possess.

"Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea." (Deuteronomy 11:24, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 1/2/2009

On Thursday night, I finally celebrated Christmas with KL and MPW. Sadly, I still have many gifts left to deliver.

While I awaited KL and MPW to return from his mother’s house, I visited JTH and TJK at MoFoS as the store is close to MPW’s condo. They were hard at work when I arrived. By hard at work I mean that they were playing Guitar Hero. It is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

After my brief visit with the MoFoS Crew, I headed to MPW’s condo where KL, MPW, and I watched football and exchanged Christmas gifts. I was surprised to see Phillip Fulmer as a guest analyst on ESPN. He held his own but I was really hoping he would be more argumentative with Lou Holtz. Fulmer wore a blue tie with his suit. I make note of this because it may be the only time I have ever seen the man without any orange in his ensemble.

MPW and KL seemed to appreciate their gifts. I must note that members of the Walker family are the best gift receivers ever. They can make any gift you give them seem like it was the best possible selection you could have made.

MPW and KL were far too generous with me. My favorite thing that they gave me was the Timechart of Biblical History. It is a massive fold out book. It also incorporates an inside joke as JTH has been working on a timeline of the genealogies of Genesis since my epic study of Abraham. That was completed in 2005.

We spent the majority of the night playing KL’s gift, the second edition of the board game Battle of the Sexes. The game makes contestants answer questions stereotypical of the opposite gender. I won by an embarrassing margin. Embarrassing to me, not to them. How do I know so much girlie information? Maybe my friends are right, I am indeed a 55-year old woman.

I must note that MPW knew the name of the popular Celine Dion song from Titanic (“My Heart Will Go On”). While I realize this is common knowledge, I was amazed that MPW admitted he knew it.

It was a great night. On the next game night we plan on playing Cranium.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bible Trivia - 1/1/2009

Question: What news caused the death of Eli?

Answer: The loss of the Ark of the Covenant. (I Samuel 4:18)

Comments: In a battle with the Philistines, the priest Eli lost both of his sons and the Ark of the Covenant. After hearing of the loss of the ark, he fell over backwards and broke his neck.

When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years. (I Samuel 4:18, NASB)

Samuel succeeded Eli as priest and leader of Israel.

Note: This is an engraving of the death of Eli by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

Word of the Day - 1/1/2009


Egression is a going out; egress.

Shortly before his Ascension, Jesus outlined the egression of the early Christian movement.

"but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8, NASB)

Acts 1:8 serves as the book's internal outline.

Note: This oil on panel of the Ascenion of Christ was painted by Garofalo (1481-1559). It resides in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 1/1/2009

I spent most of New year’s Eve working but did spend part of the evening at MoFoS with JTH.

While the rest of the staff was at Halls completing inventory or taking the day off like normal human beings, JTH manned the west store. The store was slated to close at 6 pm but since he volunteered to stay until close, the store maintained its usual closing time of 10 pm. Business was slammed, largely because MoFoS was one of the few businesses in town that remained open.

I must note that the clientele was actually slower than normal. Why? Anyone with a life would not be at MoFoS on New Year’s Eve. Yes, I realize I incriminated myself in that comment. This customer was the slowest of a slow lot. Immediately upon entering the store, he asked where the “cheap stuff” was. JTH directed him to the clearance wall where signs denoted that all movies in that section were $5. His wife then brought him to the box set wall. She started complaining about prices until he corrected her claiming that everything in the store was $5. After an extended stay he purchased one and only one item: a $1 copy of RedLine.

Sorry. I needed to vent. Rest assured that since my surveillance photography is getting this good, I will be beaten for it soon and get a well deserved comeuppance.

Speaking of RedLine, the MoFoS staple item, a new contestant has emerged in single customer Redline sales. JTH is still in the lead with 11 and TJK has not eclipsed his nine but the store manager now has a sale of nine of nine posted.

I added a new marketing concept to the movie on this night. I took a Sharpie and signed a RedLine DVD and repriced it at $2. We will see if this marketing ingenuity pays off. If someone actually buys it, I win the contest. Period. There is no prize other than pride, but oh what pride I will have.

Thankfully, we also were visited by people we knew: my cousins MLW and HANW and ANDR and PCR. ANDR is still having stomach problems and has a doctor’s appointment scheduled on January 21st. Keep her in your prayers.

PCR also announced that he has recruited another member to our church league basketball team. You may remember that his friend Brandon has agreed to be our point guard next season. After building up our back court, he has now potentially strengthened our front court. He told me that he has contacted a 6'6" friend that used to work at Journey’s. I needed to know nothing else about the guy. While I will remain the coach, I am appointing PCR recruiting coordinator.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prayer Blog - 12/31/2008

Happy New Year! Be safe and please remember to keep all who are driving tonight in your prayers.

Bible Trivia - 12/31/2008

Question: Who were James, Joses, Simon and Judas?

Answer: Brothers of Jesus. (Mark 6:3)

Comments: Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55 name four brothers of Jesus. Mark's account adds that Jesus had at least two sisters. The Catholic Church has always affirmed that these brothers were Joseph's from a previous marriage or that the word Greek adelphos should be translated more broadly as "relative". This is done to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary.

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him. (Mark 6:3, NASB)

The earliest document in which the children are deemed Joseph's and not Mary's is the apocrypahl Protoevangelium of James, written in the second century. This belief is often further supported by noting that if Mary had other sons, there would have been no need for Jesus to put her under the care of a disciple while hanging from the cross. (John 19:26-27)

Word of the Day - 12/31/2008


To cachinnate is to laugh loudly or immoderately.

The crowd cachinnated when Jesus informed them that Jairus' daughter was not dead, but merely asleep. (Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:40)

He said, "Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep." And they began laughing at Him. (Matthew 9:24, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/31/2008

I spent Tuesday night with JTH. We watched movies while we worked on one my infamous projects.

We watched Holes on ABC Family before screening a movie called Freshman Orientation on DVD. We both like the first film but neither of us had ever seen the second. The latter, a 2004 film, was originally titled Home of Phobia. Get it? It was perhaps the most blunt movie we have seen so naturally JTH loved it. It had my beloved Marla Sokoloff in it so I was content as well.

In brief notes from JTH’s world:

  • His ex-girlfriend and my friend LMM is now engaged to a man in Texas.
  • His friend CRF now has a driver’s permit for the first time at age 28. He has not suffered a seizure in over a year and is finally eligible.
  • On Sunday he took ALK to see Marley & Me. Are there any good dog movies where the dog lives through the film? (I really hope I did not spoil the ending for anyone but that is common knowledge..)
  • JTH had just come from a shift at MoFoS where he worked with the new employee Justin Kennedy (JK). JK had long been a Saturday customer is now working at the store part time.

Also on Monday I officially graduated to maintenance in my allergy shot regiment. I cannot say if my tolerance to my allergies has improved but my tolerance to the allergy shots is greatly improved. That’s something.

Has anyone else ever noticed that tic-tac-toe is a battle of hugs vs. kisses?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 12/30/2008

Associated Baptist Press
December 30, 2008 · (08-128)

David Wilkinson, Executive Director
Robert Marus, Acting Managing Editor/Washington Bureau Chief
Bob Allen, Senior Writer

In this issue
Opinion: Let us be the voice of the voiceless in the Congo (329 words)
Rick Warren accuses critics of 'Christophobia' (902 words)
Pentagon tightens policy on distributing religious literature to recruits (473 words)

Opinion: Let us be the voice of the voiceless in the Congo
By Maurice Mondengo

Throughout the last few months conflict centered in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has continued to escalate with profound effects.

Since August an estimated 250,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes .

Many have been driven into refugee camps. Many more are hiding in the forest and in the mountains. The villages are empty. The basic minimum conditions for life and sustenance are missing. It is hard and risky to reach the places where the people are hiding. Even where there is food, there is no money to buy it.

Those who have guns have their say. Those who do not have guns have lost their voice.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of goodwill from the churches which are bringing love, hope and food to the different displacement camps in the east of the DRC. The Baptist World Alliance has contributed a grant used to provide aid to displaced persons in the Kivu region, and Baptist missionaries have been working in the battlefield with some local pastors.

All the same, the people in the east of the DRC need more than food. They need change. They need a stop to this off-and-on remote-controlled war that since 1996 has left more than 5 million dead, a war that has multiplied the number of widows and orphans.

Enough is enough.

Though we cannot all travel to the DRC, each one of us can do something wherever we are at. We can all share news of the Congo and influence those who have a say in the world.

Let us work for lasting peace without keeping quiet in the face of injustice, oppression and every kind of violence. Justice and peace must walk together, and we as the Church should be at the forefront of announcing this full Gospel of justice and peace to our world.

Let us be the voice of the voiceless in the Congo.

Let peace start with us... please.

Maurice Mondengo is a Baptist pastor and junior lecturer in theology at Protestant University of the Congo. This column appeared originally on the Baptist World Alliance Emerging Leader Network blog.

Rick Warren accuses critics of 'Christophobia'
By Bob Allen

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (ABP) -- Pastor Rick Warren termed criticism of his selection to pray the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration "hate speech" and "Christophobia" in a video message on the Saddleback Church website.

"A lot of you have written to me this week and said, 'Rick, how are you going to respond to all these, you know, these false accusations and attacks, outright lies and hateful slander, and really a lot of hate speech?'" Warren said in a 22-minute message to church members. "It's what I would call Christophobia -- people who are afraid of any Christian."

The Purpose Driven Life author denied reports that he equated gay partnerships with incest and pedophilia, but said he understands how some people would think that based on comments he made in a Beliefnet interview. Warren said his main point was that he opposes changing the definition of marriage. He said he believes that homosexuality is "contrary to God's word," but also that "no American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs, period."

"Some people feel today that if you disagree with them, then that's hate speech," Warren said. "If you disagree with them, you either hate them or you're afraid of them. I'm neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact I love them, but I do disagree with some of their beliefs."

Warren said the media "is totally missing the story" by focusing just on homosexuality.

"You know the fact that an evangelical pastor believes in keeping the historic definition of marriage, that's not news," Warren said. "I mean that's not been news for hundreds of years. It's a non-story, nothing new. And the fact that the gay community would disagree with me, that's not news either.

"What's the real story? The real story is that a couple of different American leaders have chosen to model civility for the rest of the nation, and that Barack Obama and Rick Warren have decided to try to create a new politic that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye. We can have unity in our nation without uniformity. And we can have collaboration for the best of America."

Warren said the history of the invitation dates back three years, when he took a risk by inviting Obama to speak at a conference on HIV/AIDS at Saddleback Church.

"Now, when that happened, I was criticized incessantly from the right, and in fact it's never stopped," he said. "They've just criticized me and criticized me for inviting -- as if having him here said that I agreed with everything that he agreed with."

"That is still going on," Warren said. "In fact one conservative writer who hates me for agreeing to pray for the invocation wrote me just recently, he said, 'You know, Rick, if you pray at the inauguration, you are sticking a fork in the head of every aborted baby.' Now, come on. I am doing this because I love America, and it's a historic opportunity, and it's an honor to be part of any inauguration of any president, and I love our country."

Warren said Obama also took a big risk, by selecting him to pray the invocation despite knowing "he'd take flak from people who would disagree with me."

"But you know what, we're both willing to be criticized in order to try to bring America in to a new day of civil discourse and to create a new model that says you don't have to agree only with your side on everything," Warren said. "You can reach out in the middle and try to figure out to have a way that we can make America a better place -- without having to agree on everything.

"You see, that's the story that the media is missing. It's the story of risk-taking, not that people on both sides of the opposite poles are angry at me or angry at President-elect Obama; that we're friends and that we admire each other even though we disagree on some things. It's the missing element of civility."

"I was a friend of Barack Obama's long before he decided to run for office," Warren said. "I talked to him about running for office before he even ran. And he has been a friend. As I said, I don't agree with everything he espouses. Neither did I agree with everything John McCain espoused."

Warren said he's learned several things about the media in the last few years. One "is the media never gets it 100 percent correct" and another is "the media lives for conflict."

"What I've learned is if there is no conflict, then somebody is going to create it," he said. "Now the media loves to create conflict. The problem with that is it's creating a more and more polarized nation, and that polarization is causing people to be ruder and ruder and more and more inflamed."

Warren blamed that on two groups -- media programs "where the goal is to simply get people to yell at each other" and "bloggers who really need to get a life."

"A lot of people think that because they can sit in the quietness of their own home and hide behind a screen, they can hurl all kinds of bombs at people and get away with it," Warren said. "Well no, they're just being rude."

Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.

Pentagon tightens policy on distributing religious literature to recruits
By Bob Allen

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- The Pentagon recently reversed its policy of granting religious groups like the Gideons International preferential access to provide literature to new recruits.

A new regulation distributed in November says non-federal entities can continue to receive permission to place secular or religious literature at 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations around the country, but faith-based and secular organizations must be treated alike.

The policy change followed an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union into a complaint by a recruit in Louisville, Ky., about being approached by a representative of the Gideons, a 100-year-old organization best known for placing Bibles in hotel rooms.

The ACLU said it found evangelizing activities at up to 10 other processing centers, such as handing out religious tracts during their processing as if it were part of official military procedure and distributing New Testaments with khaki covers that suggested it was a military publication.

The new rule recognizes the importance of accommodating the religious beliefs of military personnel but says the government must avoid any appearance of establishing religion.

Literature at processing centers must not "create the reasonable impression that the government is sponsoring, endorsing or inhibiting religion generally, or favoring or disfavoring a particular religion."

"Under no circumstances" is a member of any non-federal entity "permitted to proselytize, preach, or provide spiritual counseling to, or otherwise communicate information of a religious nature" to applicants or federal personnel while on an MEPS site.

The centers run by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command are the last stop for armed forces recruits on their way to basic training. They receive a battery of tests and examinations, including a physical, to ensure they are fit to serve. If they are found to be qualified, they sign their entrance contract and swear an entrance oath.

The ACLU hailed the policy change. "We applaud the Military Entrance Processing Command for recognizing that the religious freedom of all individuals joining the armed forces must be protected, including those who do not subscribe to the beliefs of the Gideons," said Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "The new rule strikes the right constitutional balance by preserving religious liberty without showing governmental favoritism for one religion or belief over another."

The Gideon ministry placed Bibles only in hotels and motels between 1908 and 1940, until a member had the idea of creating a pocket-size New Testament, adding Proverbs and Psalms, and handing it out to members of the military. A test run of 10,000 New Testaments arrived in Hawaii in April 1941, a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Since then the Gideons has given away more than 45 million copies of the Bible to military personnel. Working through chaplains, the ministry offers a free New Testament to any service member who wants one.

Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.

Correction: Please replace the sixth paragraph in the Dec. 23 story "Controversy over inaugural prayer is nothing new" with the following:

Invoking God's blessing has been a part of the presidential inauguration ceremony since 1789, when George Washington took the oath of office and then proceeded to St. Paul's Chapel, where the Senate chaplain read from the Book of Common Prayer.

Bible Trivia - 12/30/2008

Question: What did Jesus say a man should do before he casts the mote out of his brother’s eye?

Answer: Cast the beam (log) out of his own eye. (Matthew 7:5)

Comments: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advised his followers of the dangers of judging others. Using the imagery of a log and a speck, he acknowledged that the accuser may be more guilty than accused.

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5, NASB)

This illustration is represented in the field of psychology as psychological projection (or projection bias), a defense mechanism in which one attributes one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and/or emotions to others.

Word of the Day - 12/30/2008


Pulchritude means physical beauty; comeliness.

King Xerxes of Persia summoned his wife Vashti so that he could display her pulchritude. She refused which ultimately led to Esther replacing her as queen.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful. (Esther 1:10-11, NASB)

Note: This oil painting by Edwin Long (1829–1891) depicts Vashti just after she had disobeyed the king.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/30/2008, Part 2

After the game, KL, MPW, and I joined JTH, TJK, ALK, and JBT at Applebees where AFH was our server. I had not dined in the restaurant in since the previous Monday. I think I was experiencing some withdrawal symptoms. We were late as traffic was heavy and I, whom pride myself on being prompt, did not hear the end of it.

I learned something new on this night. I never realized what an insult it is to point to the item you want in the menu while ordering. AFH evidently hates this. So I continually got menus and pointed to items. When I wanted a refill on my water I had a dilemma. Water is not listed in the menu. I thought it was hilarious. AFH did not.

AFH was having a rough night. In addition to being one of the few servers on duty, she was shorted by the table next to us. The customers even made a big gesture out of handing the bill to her and saying they wanted to make sure no one else got the money. Why do people do stuff like that?

AFH also had to handle our unruly bunch. The manager, Marsha, kept a close eye on us, as TJK often leaves with the salt shakers and returns them in odd places. She thinks JTH is responsible. At one point, JTH asked for a new glass after some shenanigans involving a knife maimed his. Marsha replied, “You either steal it or break it. I’d probably rather you steal it since you always bring it back in one piece.” We could not argue with that.

In MoFoS news, a new employee has been hired. His name is Justin. He is neither JBT’s girlfriend’s brother or JDM.

Also on Monday, Chancey & Reynolds Inc. fixed the heating unit in my room. The culprit was a faulty control box. My friends are quite pleased though I was relatively unaffected.

Finally, I got to meet HWW and LGW’s new granddaughter, Kathleen. They drove her by the house and we waved to her. She did not get out of the car as she has gotten everyone in her family, including her grandparents, sick. The child was cute but I am really hoping I do not catch the stomach virus.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/30/2008, Part 1

On Monday night, KL, MPW, and I joined a surprisingly full crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena to watch the Tennessee basketball team play the UL-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns in a rare un-televised game. We were surprised by the crowd as school is still out and even MPW had forgotten about the game until earlier in the day.

In preparation for the game, I donned my UT paraphernalia in front of my computer so that I could dress while listening to the have Bobby Maze’s song of “Put On For Tennessee”. I did indeed put it on for Tennessee. Some things I do just to amuse myself.

For the second game in a row, we arrived on time! As usual we saw a strong contingency from my church. Before the game, we saw HTB and his family and my old coach CDL, who always sits in out section. After the game we bumped into (almost literally) the Ackers and Trevathans. Both importantly, Joe Johnson (JLJ) and Judy Johnson (JLJ) were featured on the Kiss Cam. Naturally, Joe hammed it up. Expect a fine on Sunday.

We learned a valuable lesson during this game: don’t count your chicken sandwich... With ten minutes left in the game, the Vols were on pace for over 100 points and our free chicken sandwich given by Chick fil-A each time the Vols score 90 or more points seemed a lock. Amazingly, the Vols scored exactly 89 points after an offensive collapse of epic proportions. Tennessee still won the game, 89-62, but that is beside the point. The point is this: I do not get free poultry.

The game changed significantly with 5:12 left. Wayne Chism plummeted to the ground after blocking a shot. Our momentum was wheeled away on the stretcher with him. I really hope Chism is not hurt as MPW and I were quite insensitive during this process. Chism is always on the ground so we were not alarmed. You may remember that Jordan Howell gave Chism a concussion in practice last October 30th. Yes, Jordan Howell. As many times as Chism hits the floor, you would think he would build up a tolerance for it. It was 83-52 when he left the game.

Not only did Chism exit, but Steven Pearl entered. The all important Steven Pearl time stamps were 5:12-2:37 and 2:06-0:00. In the time he played, the team scored exactly four points. Amazingly, he did not even attempt to take a charge.

The halftime entertainment was a performance by the Fort Loudon Middle School Trash Can Band. I had seen them perform at halftime of a Lady Vols volleyball game on November 14th. They were the best halftime of the volleyball season and are the clear frontrunners in basketball. This claim is not as impressive as you might think.

More importantly, JDM joined us at halftime to see our breathtaking view. It was literally breathtaking as he had to hike from the student section to see us. He and his brother-in-law JAH were sitting in the 14th row of Section 123, the student section. This is significant as JAH is not a student.

JDM’s new baby nephew is well. JDM told his niece Pyper that this would be the last Christmas that she would be the center of attention so she had better enjoy it. His sister was going to buy the baby reading products that are advertised on TV. JDM and JAH were adamant that they have no time for that in his regiment. The only reading the child needs to be working on is reading defenses.

The quote of the day from JDM came when I asked him of his New Year’s plans: “Not much. Read a book. Drink a glass of wine. The usual.” Touché.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bible Trivia - 12/29/2008

Question: Who was Joseph called Barsabas?

Answer: One of two men considered as a replacement for Judas. (Acts 1:23).

Comments: Joseph, also known as Barsabbas and Justus, was one of two finalists considered to fill Judas' position in the Twelve. Given the prerequisites stated in Acts 1, Barsabbas was a member of the wider circle of disciples who had been with Jesus since his ministry's incipience. The decision between Barsabas and Matthias was determined by lots and the lot fell to Matthias (pictured).

So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. (Acts 1:23, NASB)

Church tradition claims that Justus eventually became Bishop of Eleutheropolis, where he died a martyr and is venerated as Saint Justus of Eleutheropolis.

Word of the Day - 12/29/2008


A footpad is a highwayman or robber who goes on foot.

At the outset of the parable of the "Good Samaritan", footpads attack a traveler. The traveler will receive compassion from an unlikely source, the Samaritan for whom the parable is named.

Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead." (Luke 10:30, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/29/2008, Part 3

After returning from Newport, I spent Sunday night with JTH and ALK.

We met at Target. JTH returned on Sunday from his vacation in Fontana Village and took ALK to see Marley & Me. ALK cried. Thankfully, she the tears had ceased by the time we met up.

While shopping ALK admitted that she was hungry. ALK making such a claim is rare so we rushed her to get food in the event that she was actually starving. I decided to eat at Mangia Pizza & More as I loved the food I had eaten there on Christmas Eve. This time, the nice girl who suggested the chicken calzone made the dish with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken. It was great though I think I prefer the fried version. That would make since as it is clearly less healthy. They also had better plastic ware on this visit. I only broke one fork cutting the calzone as opposed to five from the previous visit.

Since we were so close, we stopped at the Wal-Mart in the same shopping center. There I made a find. I bought massaging slippers. They are the Wal-Mart brand and made in China. More importantly, they were in the Christmas clearance section for 50% off of their original $15.00 rate. They make noise and make the floor vibrate, but they were a great purchase. My feet feel better already. It took a great deal of restraint to resist the urge to sleep in them.

This is photo is of an employee named Kendra who checked me out (as a cashier, not as a woman). Not since working at the church’s family activity center and seeing JWW have I seen someone whose facial expression screamed, “I want to die!” more than her. The blog has really hurt my ministry. I talked to her but I did not ask her any probing questions as I needed the picture for the blog. Is that wrong?

After a brief after hours stop at MoFoS, we headed back to my house where ALK finally viewed JTH’s all-time favorite movie, Happy Campers. Do not feel bad if you have not heard of it. It was written by Daniel Waters, who also wrote the cult classic Heathers. It was never shown in theaters and distributed on DVD It in 2002. It stars Knoxville native Brad Renfro. Amazingly, this is the first time JTH has viewed the film since Renfro’s untimely death on January 16. ALK did not hate the movie though she did hate the expert commentary JTH and I provided. We obviously provided great insight but she could not focus on the film and that was important since has she not seen the movie on numerous occasions as we have. (Note: It is not one of my favorites, I just watch it as a courtesy to JTH.)

I received a phone call from my dad just before we started the movie. As has been noted, the heat in my apartment has been out. Before calling the repairman he called me and asked, “I wanted to check...You did turn it to heat didn’t you?” It’s official. My dad thinks I’m an idiot. I can’t say that I blame him.

After watching the film, we stayed up half of the night playing the Wii. I learned a new formula on this night: JTH+Wii=cussing. I actually heard my friend cuss more in this one night than all of the years I have known him combined. ALK has often played the Wii with her best friend ALH. In contrast, JTH and I are novices. ALK beat JTH 153-151 in bowling and then 11-10 in ping pong. At this point, I quit keeping track of ALK’s victories. The scores could have been more lopsided as ALK was obviously being merciful to her boyfriend. JTH did settle down after ALK threatened to quit due to his language. I love Bart!

Quote of the night from ALK: “I stink in real life bowling because the balls...I can’t hold them.”

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/29/2008, Part 2

On Sunday, my parents and I spent the day visiting family.

We ate at my aunt JSN’s house. We had another huge crowd as all six of my cousins are home. With HANW’s wonderful in-laws and HLN’s friend Karlie (a Farragut High School freshman and fellow member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble) present, we had fourteen people for lunch. Unfortunately, my uncle REN did not get to attend the gathering as he was at work.

You may note that there was no place setting for me in the previous photo. As always, I was relegated to the kid’s table with HLN, Karlie, my aunt JSN, and MLW’s brother David. I thoroughly enjoyed their company. This is a picture of the massive buns my mother bought engulfing the tiny hamburgers we ate. I must note that Karlie did a beautiful job modeling the dish. As always, JSN’s food was great.

Red velvet cake was served for dessert. This particular cake is made by a family friend and has been sold for upwards of $100 at charity auctions. I made an almost sacrilegious comment for my family: I admitted that I don’t love red velvet cake. I do not dislike it either, it is just not my favorite. I am glad I confessed. My cousin HANJ provided me with the last piece of Kahlua cake made by a Hawaiian friend in Abilene. It was awesome.

In family news, on Friday, my cousin HLN completed her college applications online. Her final four choices are Connecticut College (in New London, Connecticut), Fordham University, Goucher College, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Given her interests, a northern school is a must. Goucher presently is her first choice. Not that she will need help getting in, but I suggested she cite all of her heritage to make her more diverse: a southern Jewish Methodist. I also may write her a letter of recommendation since as a minister I do that these days.

I have also set a goal of assisting HLN in meeting Ringo Starr in 2009. She is as Beatles obsessed as ever and I figure meeting Ringo will be a lot easier than meeting Paul McCartney or the two dead Beatles.

After a fun visit with the Nodells, my parents and I hit the road to Newport to see my paternal grandparents. They caught a stomach virus on December 18th and have confined themselves to their apartment ever since. We believe they picked up the virus while making visits at the hospital. The virus lasted only a few days but it weakened them significantly. They did not attend church earlier in the day. It marked the first time since 1985 that they missed consecutive Sunday services. On that occasion, my grandfather sustained a heart attack!

We talked with them at length. My mother let it slip that my uncle JHV got them a DVD player for Christmas. I perused their living room and was careful to ask where their gift from my uncle was. My mother then added that she heard they received a DVD player. Unfortunately, my uncle has yet to deliver it. We do not think the surprise was totally spoiled as we are fairly certain they do not know what a DVD player is.

In news from Newport, my grandparents’ favorite restaurant Lois’ Country Kitchen (located at 1140 W Highway 25 70, Newport) is closing its doors in 2009. The proprietor and restaurant’s namesake Lois Wilson (LAW) is retiring citing fatigue.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 12/29/2008, Part 1

On Friday night, KJW and her parents KLTW and RAW visited my house. The purpose of the visit was two-fold. First, they returned my truck so that my cousin HANJ could borrow it. Second, it gave my mother the opportunity to deliver KJW her Christmas gift.

I love KJW very much but on this night, she was a stinker. She was uncharacteristically taciturn. She refused requests to sing Christmas songs (which she loves to do), but she did hum several as she has just discovered this skill. She also walked around sniffing a lot, mimicking a dog. At least she still looked cute in her pony tail.

DLNV painstakingly selected KJW’s gifts. She bought her a Mandala Mosaic Magnetic Art set. This item features nine shapes that can be made into geometrical designs on a magnetic board. DLNV also gave KJW a Curious George book and a matching plush doll. All of these betrayed DLNV’s status as a former teacher. KJW seemed to enjoy each of the items, but did not play with any of them for any great length of time. I felt awful for my mother as she wants a grandchild so badly she can taste it and KJW may be as close as she gets. I suspect KJW was just worn out from the holidays.

KJW did have a good Christmas. Her parents got her a doll house and her very first bed. Her parents are refurnishing her mother’s old bed. The finishing touches have yet to be added so KJW has yet to sleep in it. It is hard to believe her crib will soon be retired.