Things I Think

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96 Responses

  1. “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

    Those were my youthful passions, as an idealistic college student and war protestor.

    Today, not so much. At my age I don’t know if I have any ‘passions’ remaining

  2. Michael says:

    I do…I just have to balance them with naps… 🙂

  3. Bobby says:

    “The single greatest threat to the church and our society is not one of the many moral issues we argue about…it’s the narcissism that is now the most identifiable cultural character trait we now develop. Narcissism is venom created to kill true community…”

    This is absolutely spot-on.

    Fleshing it out a bit, I think another great threat is the cult of unity. The “unity-at-all-costs” mindset that doesn’t allow for the correction of the narcissist’s error.

  4. “5. Studies show that three out of four Americans will not read a single book this year. Only narcissists would believe that every opinion of an unread people is valid or important.”

    Do manuals count? 😉

    I spend a great amount of time on doing graphic design tutorials and Adobe reading support materials.

    I also practice guitar to videos, am learning to play keyboard, still doing a wee bit of singing as I make recordings in Garageband & Logic, I engineer podcasts

    The “books” I have are from my iPad & iBook apps.

    …and then there is the sketching, drawing and digital painting practice on iPad & desktop Photoshop.

    Oh, and the photography with the DSLR, yep, do that too.

    So, for me, reading media input is selective, the movie/TV type entertainment is highly selective, and my time spent is about doing stuff and making things.

  5. Michael says:

    I would also note the syncretistic aspect of sanctification in that passage…

  6. Michael says:


    That is unity designed to quash dissent from the narcissist…and you may be right.

  7. Michael says:


    I think most reading today is visual voyeurism of other peoples lives.
    Reading to do stuff and make things is closer to what we were created to do…

  8. About the reading issue. While we were on vacation in Maui, my 10 yr old granddaughter read a whole Harry Potter book … 700 pages … and I mean real paper pages. 🙂

  9. Xenia says:


    It’s easy to identify a person who has the genuine personality disorder of narcissism. But when an entire culture has adopted narcissism, it’s evidence that our whole society is profoundly disordered.

  10. Michael says:


    She has a great chance at success if he keeps that up…few things are more important.

  11. Michael says:


    I think it is evident that we are…even in our sacred places.

  12. Bob Sweat says:

    Amen to number three!

  13. Someone probably needs to define narcissim in they way that it is being used in this thread.
    To an extent, I am one in that today, I fed only me, I washed and decorated only me and in the course of my day I will make sure that I am taken care of and that no one brings harm to me.

  14. Michael says:


    There is a degree to which what you presented is normal and healthy.
    However…today we focus on me, me, me,… to the point where community is no longer considered necessary or good if it impinges on or makes any demands on me at all.
    To some degree this is the result of rampant consumerism which now allows me to make me specific choices about virtually everything and requires little compromise for the sake of others or a community.

  15. Michael says:

    Thank you, Bob!

  16. Xenia says:

    Sacred places….

    Well, are they really sacred places? Do they even have the concept of being a sacred place? My old CC made a huge point that the building was most certainly not a scared place and we were encouraged to call it “the facility.”

    I went to a Dec 24 religious service with my daughter at the local mega-wannabee and had a really good time singing Christmas carols and seeing old friends. But the “sermon” was all about the pastor’s struggle with his decision to accept the top job at this church. Because he was *so* busy in so many important ministries back east…. Yet the people here wanted him *so* much, This was (western) Christmas Eve, by the way, but somehow his story took up all the time. Now, this was not a flashy guy. He was a middle-aged man, dressed in an unremarkable way. Didn’t talk loudly, didn’t tell shocking jokes, etc. Yet it was all about him and I doubt if he even realized it.

    The Christmas carols were lovely, though.

    Orthodox Churches unabashedly claim to be sacred places. Supernatural things happen in them.

    This is Christmas Eve in my world. I have cookies to bake, presents to wrap, the house to clean, vigil to attend and a meal (meaty!) to prepare for tomorrow. Glory to God in the highest!

    Christ is born!
    Glorify Him!

  17. Xenia says:

    Yet it was all about him and I doubt if he even realized it.<<<

    The reason I don't think he realized (and why he thought it was even appropriate) is because that is the church culture he lives in. He gave the kind of "sermon" he has seen modeled by his mentors. He sincerely thinks this is what church is supposed to be like.

  18. Michael says:


    You nailed it…and the lesson learned is that as long as you have the floor, it’s all about you.

  19. Papias says:


    Have a Blessed Christmas!

    Are you making 12 dishes for Holy Night supper? 🙂

  20. Xenia says:

    Thanks, Papias!

    Nyet on the 12 dishes.

  21. Tim says:

    Merry Christmas, Xenia!

  22. Tim says:

    “3. Pastors aren’t called to be great teachers, they’re called to be men who teach great things.”

    Amen! It’s hard for me to agree with that one enough. No amount of skill should ever eclipse the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  23. Tim says:

    By the way, Xenia…why is it some Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, and others on Jan 7? Every year I forget that my brother’s Antiochian church celebrates on Dec 25, because I was used to the Russian calendar.

  24. Rob says:

    A lot of those people who won’t read a single book, will not hesitate to comment dogmatically on subjects such as climate change, fracking, economics, GMO’s, evolution, politics, history, etc. In fact, it will never even cross their mind that they might need to learn something about the subject before being so sure of their opinion. Human nature, though.

  25. Michael says:


    You can add theology to that list…

  26. filbertz says:

    of those who read a book this year, how many purposely read a book by someone or about something with which they disagree in order to better understand? No wonder the polars are most populated.

  27. Michael says:



  28. Xenia says:

    Tim, thanks!

    Some Orthodox Churches, especially the ones geographically based around the Mediterranean, switched to the new (Gregorian) calender at the beginning of the 20th century whereas most of the Slavic Orthodox churches kept to the old (Julian) calendar. Both groups celebrate the Nativity on Dec 25 it’s just that Dec 25 comes 2 weeks later on the old calendar. My parish is on the old calendar and your brother’s Antiochian parish is on the new calendar.

  29. Xenia says:

    Discussions about calendars take up a lot of space on EO forums and blogs. It’s a contentious issue among some folks and has caused some minor schisms.

  30. Ixtlan says:

    “Pastors aren’t called to be great teachers, they’re called to be men who teach great things.”

    Great observation. People are attracted to the pastor’s personal life that he puts out there in the form of illustrations, but that is only junk food in comparison to the gospel. Get out of the way and let people see the glorious Christ or sit down.

  31. Nonnie says:

    “The difference between a pastor and a religious performer is that the performer is only held accountable for the performance…a pastor is accountable for and to people.”….and I would add….”A pastor is accountable to God.”

  32. Michael says:


    Amen and amen.

  33. Michael says:


    The difference is that a pastor “knows” he’s accountable to God…

  34. Xenia says:

    #30, Ixtlan, yep.

    The pastor I mentioned wanted to talk about Christ’s birth bringing light into the world. Yet instead of talking about the great cosmic battle between Light and Darkness that Jesus came to win for us, he chose to talk about God just giving us a little bit of light to guide us just a few steps at a time, etc. This is such a puny take on Christmas, the whole glorious Incarnation watered down to a system for figuring out how to make career decisions.

  35. Nonnie says:

    Christmas….”the great cosmic battle between Light and Darkness that Jesus came to win for us,” Wow! What a sermon!

  36. Xenia says:

    But the theology-rich Christmas carols saved it.

    Of course, they come from a different age.

  37. Steve Wright says:

    Christmas Eve service is a huge responsibility for me. I know there will be all sorts of visitors, including unbelievers, there because their family goes to CCLE and has brought them to the service. I know this family is counting on me to help prime the pump for any witnessing they want to do with their loved ones in the time they have them visiting.

    Likewise, there are people who rarely if ever come to church who want to come out on Christmas Eve – just like any other church has – and so this is almost a one-time shot to leave an impact for their life in the new year with the truth.

  38. Steve Wright says:

    I also know I have to be brief…after the music the small children are starting to get restless (and noisy) 🙂

  39. Xenia says:

    Our Christmas Eve services are always the same, century after century. We sort of have the attitude of “This is Christianity- take it or leave it!” There is also Liturgy tomorrow. Then a big potluck at Fr. G’s house. (I am bringing BBQ chicken and lemon bars.)

  40. Xenia says:

    The Christmas sermon is always the reading of the Nativity letter from the presiding bishop.

  41. Catherine says:

    Merry Christmas Zenia!

  42. “This is Christianity- take it or leave it!”

    I like that. We are somewhat similar in that we preach / speak the gospel (either from the pulpit or in our one on one conversations) and just leave the people in it. It’s up to the word of God and the Holy Spirit at that point and not my cajoling or craftiness.

  43. Mark says:

    Reading Cash A Life. Great story of a flawed man seeking redemption again a d again. I can relate. Read Robert Parker’s Appaloosa trilogy. Solid western storyteller. But he’s dead and they r continuing story with another author!??

  44. The Appaloosa series was great!
    I had heard they were continuing the Jesse Stone novels on TV, but hadn’t heard about any of his other series.

  45. Xenia says:

    Merry Christmas to you too, Catherine!

  46. Merry Christmas, Xenia.

    Hey, MLD, saw this online and thought you might like it.
    It is a Lutheran Insulter.

    It pulls up random insults from Luther’s works.

  47. Neo says:

    The message of the Gospel is so profound, creative, magical, true, nuanced, and timeless that though no one can preach a “better” gospel, some can preach it better than others. Keep that in mind. I love a mind that can bring fresh understanding to timeless truths.

  48. PP Vet says:

    I like a teacher who brings the word of the Lord.

  49. Xenia says:

    Merry Christmas, Derek!

    Presents all wrapped, food all cooked, tree turned lights on (very pretty tree this year), time to get ready for vigil!

  50. Ixtlan says:

    Talk about an undersell………….

  51. Xenia says:

    My old CC pastor would have given a robust teaching about the meaning of the Incarnation and he might even have had tears in his eyes as he told the Story.

  52. Neo says:

    Vet. I enjoy that, too.

  53. Steve @ #30

    Right on!

  54. Babylon's Dread says:

    This is one of the most insightful and penetrating lists ever. I read and reread it.

  55. Mark says:

    Our Christmas Eve service was beautiful. The kids sang, the worship team sang, we had a special solo from jean luc lead singer of The Kry Christian band, then a brief sermon of the Christmas story focused on how amazing and supernatural it was that god would leave his heavenly throne and humble Himself to come dwell amongst the filth of humanity. God became man is one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. Why? Because He loves us so much! He had to live, in order to die, because he loves us so much. That is the Gospel. And our pastor told it simply, conversationally , without jokes or stories. It moved me to tears. We closed with a brief altar call and over a dozen came forward. One by one – each with applause, until the whole body of our church was on our feet applauding new hearts changed by the Holy Spirit. It was memorable

  56. Tim says:

    @28 – Thanks, Xenia, for the info. I hope you had a blessed celebration last night & today!

  57. I was re reading the list and #1 struck me today (funny it didn’t strike me yesterday). Why do we give Phil and the other members of the Duck family any street cred at all? Is it just because they claim to be christians?

    I was best friends with a couple that were on the original cast of “the housewives of Orange County” for the first 3 seasons. There was nothing ‘real’ about that show – that was not how they lived their day to day lives. They had fake situations come up in the show all the time.Later Bravo gave them their own show “Date my Wife” – how real do you think that was?

    So, the Ducksters, why would they be any different – people claiming to be Christians just jukeing everyone around. Just characters in a show probably laughing their butts off at us.

    Just as a disclaimer, I have only watch the first half of one show – at the suggestion of my daughter. I thought it was stupid and turned it off halfway. This however was before I heard that they prayed at the end of each show … which to many in the christian community was the redeeming value.

  58. Here’s something my friend Dave at TheEffect has been saying for many years about “everlasting life”, along with NT Wright

  59. Jim says:


    I guess the question is, who is out of touch? The real housewives crowd or the get dirty hunting ducks crowd. I think part of the reason for DD’s popularity is the fact that you and your friends think it’s stupid.

  60. Jim, I don’t know what my friends think … but there have been about 5 spinoffs of the housewives show.

    But what do I know – when I told someone I didn’t like the show (I may have even said it was stupid) the reply back was “but they pray over dinner at the end of each show.” Wowzer! 🙂

  61. But I admit to being a bit culturally retarded – so I would never question WHY something was popular.

  62. Xenia says:

    I think these Duck folk are genuine believers. I read somewhere that one of them is a pastor and they have written books about Christian living. Whether it was wise for them to do a reality program with Hollywood…. that I have doubts about. But they probably thought they could help the Christian cause by means of entertainment. That’s a popular concept today.

  63. Jim says:

    I don’t think people watch the show in anticipation of Phil saying grace, which is the only “Christian” element to the theme. You know some funny people 🙂

  64. Xenia says:

    One thing I did notice when I was at my son’s house and he was playing DD nonstop and that was the total lack of African Americans. I strongly suspect that the very wealthy DD families have hired help and I could almost guarantee, this being the South and all, that most of the hired help is black. If so, they have made the decision not to show these black servants on the episodes.

  65. Josh Hamrick says:

    Not that many black servants in the South anymore Xenia. That started fading in the 80’s. Much more likely to be Hispanic now.

  66. I heard yesterday that one of the Duck guys wears a fake beard – anyone else hear this?

  67. Jim says:

    Love to hear the Northeast/East Coast crowd talk about the south….

  68. Jim says:

    sorry…West Coast

  69. Kevin H says:


    I am here to represent the Northeast/ East Coast and talk about the South. My current thoughts are that the South sounds really good to me after I drove into work this morning at 3 degree weather and a wind chill even much colder. 😉

  70. Tim says:

    @65 – My understanding is that the Duck Commander business is staffed primarily by family…which would explain much of the monochromatic skin tones.

    From everything I’ve read, they are very active Christians. Though I would disagree vehemently with some of their doctrines, their faith does seem to be genuine.

    I can’t speak to the plot on the TV show. It is “reality” TV, after all…everything is fake in that genre.

    Having driven through Monroe, LA recently (where we stopped for a moment at the Duck Commander HQ), I can attest that the town is a typical North Louisiana town. Same folks there that we see here in East Texas.

  71. Xenia says:

    Jim, I am from North Carolina.

  72. Josh Hamrick says:

    AKA – The best place on earth.

  73. Xenia says:

    If Josh, who I always believe, says that blacks are no longer employed as servants then I rescind my thoughts on that topic.

  74. Xenia says:

    What I meant to say was, that I would not be surprised that Willie, who lives in a mansion, has his toilets cleaned by a person of color, which is perfectly fine, but keeping them invisible is already caving in to political correctness.

  75. Josh Hamrick says:

    Well, that went further than I expected. 🙂

    Let me elaborate… growing up in the south in the 1980’s it was common for well-to-do whites to have a maid, or servants of some sort. These people were, by and large, black. The dynamic has changed in a huge way over the past 30 years. Blacks look down on other blacks for taking those positions. Even if that’s what it takes to feed the family, most would rather go without than serve the white man. Whites are pressured by both black and whites to not hire black servants. You don’t wanna look like a plantation master in 2014. There are still black servants in the south, but not nearly to the degree that it was in decades past. For the time being it is socially acceptable to hire Mexicans, and they work cheap, so they get most of the jobs that the blacks use to have in the south.

  76. “servants”

    Just curious and not trying to be a jerk here, most folk I’ve ever known in my almost 60 years on the planet here in California call our fellow citizens who are hired to do a job “an employee”

    Is the term “servant” used in public speech or just in polite private company?

  77. Josh Hamrick says:

    Its not used at all for the most part, G. I used it here as short hand for a number of household employees. I don’t know of anyone who would call their personal employee a servant in 2014. Sorry for the sloppy terminology.

  78. Jim says:

    Kevin H,

    I meant northeast and west coast. The cold made it here today as well, as it’s currently 47. Everyone’s dressed for snow. Fortunately, we’ll be in the 70’s for the rest of the week, and we’ll hit 80 this weekend.

  79. maid, servant, gardener, graphic artists are all job titles given to “employees”

    This is not rocket science.

  80. Thanks Josh.

    MLD, your list forgot “musicians”, “audio engineers”, “producers” & “husbands”

  81. Steve Wright says:

    Actually there is a huge legal distinction between employees and contractors – which is at the root of millions of dollars worth of disputes and legal issues each year.

    Steve the insurance guy…

  82. the point is the use of the term “servant”

  83. Josh cleared it up nicely, thanks Josh =)

  84. Steve Wright says:

    I was responding to MLD, not you G… (the rocket science comment)

  85. I had to fire my man-servant last week.
    He was pilfering
    I have no idea how I will dress myself now.


    Sorry, no Downton Abbey with African Amreicans as the downstairs contingent in the South anymore people.

  86. MLD’s was a fun poke at the downtrodden graphic artists who slave over revisions for clients who say they want their design “fast, cheap and great”, wherein we say, “pick two!”

  87. You can still hire a servant – who is going to stop you? and you can hire an african american one if you like. Is there a law against it?

  88. Downton Abbey reminded me of a recent visit to Breakers the summer cottage of The Vanderbilt clan.

    We watched our first episode with this year’s season premiere. Glad we recorded it, my wife fell asleep 2x.

    It needed an android & a car chase

  89. G,
    What do you get paid for that husband gig?

  90. MLD, I pay to keep the gig

  91. I give her 100% of everything I earn, which is what I agreed to 33 years ago.
    Best thing I ever agreed to.

  92. off to a meeting

  93. “MLD, I pay to keep the gig” – LOL 🙂

    I know the feeling – my wife and I have adjoining offices. Someone came in today to give me a check. I said “go next door and see my banker.”

    33 yrs, still rookie time … 45 coming up at the end of the month.

  94. It must be a new generation – my wife and I have never had separate money or separate bank accounts.

    Today, everyone in my office – they are in the 25 – 40 range – all keep separate money from their spouses. A couple of them are what i earn is mine and what you earn is yours.

    Really weird.

  95. Quick meeting, they chose FAST + GREAT

    Happy 45 MLD

    Yeah, accounts, only separate by name for function, all shared access, all owned by both of us.

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