So I'm sure most of us have heard of the actress Sharon Stone, most likely as a result of her great acting abilities that were made evident in the movie Basic Instinct, which she then followed up a number of years later with an equally stellar performance in Basic Instinct 2. Well, believe it or not, this incredible actress has fallen out of the good graces of the majority of citizens in China due to some remarks she made about the earthquake there that killed over 68,000 people being a result of bad karma. There are 2 things that I find interesting about this news story...
1. The idea of karma doesn't really make sense to me for this reason: if karma is a result of the things we do, and it is quite obvious that no one is good, nice or selfless all of the time; then it would seem that we all deserve bad things to happen to us according to the law of karma. I'm sorry but I'm not down with something that leaves it all up to me and the things I say or do because if that's the case, then I'm hopeless.
2. And this I think is just hilarious really....Why would or should the country of China, its citizens and especially its government officials, care in the least what Sharon Stone says about them, their policies (this is certainly not to say that their policies shouldn't be addressed) or their karma as if any of us in this country listen to the things she says? Even to the point that the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry felt it necessary to comment on? Really? We're talking about the same Sharon Stone right? My advice to China is to brush up on their knowledge of Hollywood Films before they feel like they have to defend themselves to an at-best-cameo-appearance actress. I mean, why don't they care what I have to say...at least I wasn't in Basic Instinct or the somehow worse sequel?
May 29, 2008
May 27, 2008
Here are some excerpts from a sermon I gave this past Sunday. I tried to keep it from being too long so you wouldn't get bored reading it and Blogger messed up the format so bear with me if you dare.
Memories are funny things. They have the power to motivate us and they have the power to freeze us in our tracks. It seemed right to take some time on this Memorial Day weekend to talk about memories and the importance of being reminded. Webster’s dictionary had some interesting things to say about memory. It defined memory as:
The part I found most interesting with what Webster had to say about memory was the relationship between the word memory and recollection. It says that recollection “adds an implication of consciously bringing back to mind, often with some effort.” It made me wonder if there have been times in your life when you have wanted a certain memory to revisit you but you really had to search for it? It was probably something that was good or enjoyable. It could be anything: a memory of a certain food, someone’s voice, a smell, a place, a song. In those moments, it’s good to be reminded. And sometimes when we have forgotten the consequences of an action or a set of words (our own or another’s) and the hurt that was caused, and though it’s not easy, it’s good to be reminded in hopes that we have learned something in the process so we won’t have to experience or cause that hurt again.
On a Memorial Day weekend, it’s good to be reminded of those that have gone before us and those who even now are serving their country so that we have the freedom to call it ours as well. It’s good to be reminded of loved ones that are no longer with us but not forgotten. The memory of these and many more is not and should not be reserved for just one day of the year. Dr. Carl Sagan said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.” It’s good to be reminded of that.
- We need to be reminded that there have been heroes of the faith that have gone before us.
- a.) Hebrews chapter 11 lists individuals of faith that helped pave the way for us today
- b.) Part of this is being reminded that we aren’t doing this alone. That there have been people of faith that have struggled with the very same issues we struggle with today.
- c.) It’s good to be reminded that we are not thrust into the world on our own.
- We need to be reminded that we are loved unconditionally, with no strings attached.
- a.) When we are faithless, Christ remains faithful. When we turn our love away from Him, His love remains.
- b.) It’s important to remember that there is nothing you or I can do to earn this love and thankfully there is nothing you or I have done or will do to lose this love.
- c.) It’s good to be reminded that there is a place to seek and find love unconditionally regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.
- d.) AND because He first loved us in this way…
- We need to be reminded that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
- a.) William Barclay said, “If a man’s Christianity does not cause him to be kind it is not real.”
- b.) Part of being a Christian is putting others before ourselves, it’s not easy but it’s also not an option.
- c.) We simply need to be nice to people, realize their worth as one of God’s and treat them accordingly.
- d.) It’s good to be reminded that God loves people and so too should we.
- We need to be reminded that faith requires action.
- a.) It’s hard to follow standing still. You’ve probably heard the story of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water; his faith forced him into action.
- b.) Do you want to know a great way to measure the pulse of your faith? Ask yourself if it is pushing you into action. James tells us in chapter 2 of his letter that faith without deeds, without action is dead.
- c.) The actions of your faith will be varied and could be anything from helping someone at the grocery store, supporting a child in a developing nation or striking up a conversation with someone you might not choose to interact with.
- d.) It’s not that the action itself isn’t important but also that you feel compelled to do something, to act in a particular situation.
- e.) It’s good to be reminded that putting our faith in Jesus means we actually have to go and do...that maybe "faith" is actually a verb.
May 24, 2008
I feel like I have run into this more and more lately, people who take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and call it their "faith". What I have a hard time with is what exactly are they putting their faith in? Now I'm not telling people what they should or shouldn't believe in (though I do feel strongly about this guy named Jesus and firmly believe that if you don't know Him, you should get to) but I am asking them to understand what it is exactly they are professing as their belief. I think it has become a pet-peeve of mine to hear people talk about "believing" (or liking) this aspect of one particular religion and another aspect of another religion or this part of the Bible but not this part. At some point, make a decision and go with it.
Hearing someone talk about their belief in God and go on to describe how they decided to accept a little something from one religion, a little something from another and still a little more from another one is, honestly, confusing. It would seem to me that this line of logic is rather illogical and here's why: if someone believes there is a (G)od, which would by definition put it above us as humans, then doesn't the act of mixing and matching beliefs from various religions in a sense say that the one that is doing the mixing and matching actually knows better or more than the (G)od, which would then make the individual smarter than the (G)od and ultimately above it.
I will be the first to admit that there are things I don't understand about Christianity but I don't think that means I have the authority or right to simply ignore them or decide I don't like them and so I'll fill them in with something that sounds or feels better. Hence my struggle with the Unitarian Church, to believe in everything is really to believe in nothing. Theology that is bad or not theology is not good theology. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of acceptance and unity, that's why I am a trying to be like Jesus (aka: a Christian; but I'm getting more and more apprehensive of that label because the "Christian brand" is starting to make me a little nervous...I'll write more about this in a later post). When everything is easy to understand and feels good there is no need for faith, fortunately for those of us trying to follow Jesus that is not the case.
May 23, 2008
This has been one of those weeks for me where it seems like everything is happening at once and I can't seem to catch up. My classes are finishing up this week so I've got to get my papers in, books read, forums posted, etc and on top of that prepare a sermon for Sunday, stay on top of a lot of things going on at church, and blah blah blah. The thing that actually started to cause me to feel stressed was an email virus that had found its way into our network at church and as I was driving to volleyball practice I was thinking about the 218 emails that showed up in my inbox as "undeliverable" because they said I was trying to let people know where they could purchase their pharmaceuticals online or buy fancy replica watches (apparently I know the best places so hit me up if you're interested)...
...and then, as if out of nowhere God slapped me across the face with some perspective...
...on the news I was reminded about 5 million people that have been displaced by the earthquake in China and over 55,000 people killed AND the 130,000 killed in Myanmar by the cyclone. I have never experienced an audible voice from God, at least not that I'm aware of, but this had to have been pretty close to it as I could clearly hear the words in my heart saying,
"Matt, you're kidding me right? You're not seriously whining about your email inbox, forgetting the fact that you own multiple computers OR that you have to read some books for a masters degree, forgetting the fact that there are people on this earth that still haven't located their loved ones because of these disasters OR that there are people that can't afford to buy food for their starving families. Please get some perspective and while you're at it, get a clue!"
May 20, 2008
.....INDIANAPOLIS!!! It's official, the NFL owners accepted the city's bid to host the 2012 NFL Super Bowl. This could mean HUGE things for the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. It also seems to make some sense considering we are spending over $700 million to build a state-of-the-art 7 level stadium with a retractable roof.
A study from Ball State University estimates that hosting the Super Bowl in 2012 could bring a $365 million boost to the Indianapolis metro area economy and could bring in somewhere near 100,000 visitors over the course of Super Bowl week. And people say there isn't anything in Indiana except corn.
May 18, 2008
One of the things I struggle with is when people do something only "half-way". What I mean by that is when people just go through the motions not really caring about the end result. I have a hard time understanding why someone would do that because I don't understand the point of doing something at all if it's done only "half-way". Sure I'm competitive but I'm not a sore loser. I have no problem losing but for the most part, I'm going to try my best and if I lose while doing that then so be it.
I've seen it so many times in so many different aspects of life...someone only goes "half-way" in his or her friendships and then can't figure out why most of them don't last, someone only goes "half-way" at work and can't figure out why he or she didn't get that raise or promotion, someone goes "half-way" in his or her marriage and can't seem to figure out why it's struggling, someone goes "half-way" on the court and can't believe that he or she didn't win, someone goes "half-way" in school and can't believe he or she isn't passing the class, someone goes "half-way" with his or her spiritual life and can't understand why he or she feels so disconnected from God...and the examples go on and on.
Thinking about this today has made me take a new look at Paul's words in 1 Corinthians telling us that "whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." I've always found this to be really hard to do and tried to imagine myself eating Skyline (or whatever I might be eating at the time of "giving glory") and eating it in such a way that glorifies God but now I'm wondering if what Paul is really saying is "don't just do something half-way, see it through to the end and give the best you've got while doing it or don't do it at all."
May 15, 2008
I'm currently spending time in North Carolina with some family and just got done having one of those times when you laugh so hard that your abs hurt, your eyes water, your nose runs and you can't catch your breath. Sitting on my sister & brother in-law's screened porch with only the sound of our own laughter, the falling rain and a tree frog named Lewis laughing with us felt pretty good!
Like so many other people, I like to laugh but even more than that I like to make people laugh. Do you have those people in your life that when they are around, they make you feel like the funniest person that ever lived because they laugh at just about everything you say? Of course I like to think I'm pretty funny (and maybe that is a joke in and of itself) but there is no doubt my youngest sister thinks I'm funny. Now granted, she's pretty hilarious in her own right but when we get going we're hard to stop. We both enjoy laughing and goofing around and so it's easy for us to have a good time together, which we usually do but what was even better about tonight was that all of us headed off to bed with sore abs, wet sleeves and the exhaustion that comes from good, hard laughter.
May 12, 2008
Remember that show "Total Request Live" on MTV with Carson Daly? I just realized/found out that it's actually still on and from what I gather, airs everyday. For some reason I find it really funny that it's still on but then again, it might be the only time MTV actually plays any music.
Ok, so if you don't know me well enough by now then you might be asking yourself, "Is he seriously going to devote an entire blog to TRL?" And the answer is, never! However, the idea of taking requests is of interest to me, hence the whole "total request" theme.
I've enjoyed blogging up to this point and am trying to blog everyday but thought it could be interesting to take some requests. So, if you have a topic, situation, idea, album, issue, question, book, thought, complaint, movie, etc that you would like me to blog about or that you would like to discuss in the Journeymen's Catalog blogsphere, drop me an email at email@example.com. All emails and content will be kept confidential and blogged about anonymously so you don't have to worry that someone might figure out it was you that wanted to talk about reality TV shows, why Hilary is still in the race, why it's so hard to be a Christian around other Christians, the Apple iPhone or anything in between.
May 11, 2008
There are too many people, people we all know, that are uncomfortable with who they are and so instead they try to be something or someone they're not. We've all seen them (and been them at times) and it breaks my heart. Seeing them try so hard, go through so much pain, spend so much money to be anyone but themselves. It's not so much that the answers are hard to figure out...popularity, relationships, money, pride, power but maybe it goes deeper than that. I wonder how many people are trying to be something or someone else because they are looking for a way to bury their past or even start over.
I want to know people that are real, authentic, sincere, with the past and present and I want the freedom that comes with letting people know me in this way as well. I mean, when it comes down to it, aren't we all looking for this? Just think, you wouldn't have to pretend anymore. No more hiding or struggling to pull yourself out of the quicksand created by lies. We want so badly to let people know what's really going on, who we really are, the things that make us tick and yet so many of us are afraid to do just that. I think it becomes crucial to let others know that they can be real around us, even though sometimes real is messy.
If: real = messy
Then: bring on the mess...because the reality of it is, we are all a little messy.
May 9, 2008
'Tis the season for weddings. Weddings are such a unique experience, every ceremony is so different and so personal that two are seldom the same or even similar. Tomorrow I am officiating my first wedding and I'm pretty excited to see how it goes.
To help keep myself from being too nervous, I'm trying to remember as much as I can about my own wedding, which is helping me realize that people really won't remember much of anything I say or do short of setting something on fire. Thinking about any of the weddings I've been to as a guest, I honestly can't remember one thing any of the pastors said, so I feel like I might be OK.
May 6, 2008
For those of us lucky enough to live in Indiana (and you can take that however you like) today is our chance to vote in the ongoing and seemingly endless primary race. With yard signs displaying the names of those running for the local school board, state governor, president of the U.S. and everything in between my wife and I got up nice and early to avoid the rush at the polls. We've been hearing on the news about 200,000 new registered voters in Indiana and how everyone is expecting record setting voter turnout but I'm guessing that must be for those that arrive to the polls after 8am because our polling site was fairly empty.
I'm hoping that you have or will take advantage of the opportunity to be involved in the political process because it is not only your freedom and right but also your duty and responsibility. There is something to say about standing in front of your ballot with the names of the candidates listed there that connects you with something bigger. It's not very often that I think of myself as being involved with the thing that is "The United States of America" except for when I vote. The machine seems so big and yet somehow I feel empowered to think that my little vote can make a difference...and maybe it will.
May 1, 2008
This morning one of Indiana's superdelegates, Joe Andrew, switched his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama and was calling for Clinton to step out of the race after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. Some are making the argument that the prolonged and increasingly divisive race for the Democratic nomination is hurting the party and their chances in November. My guess is that the Republican party is loving the way things are playing out in the Democratic race and couldn't have planned it any better.
And so the question becomes, when is enough enough? Do you think one of the Democratic candidates should drop out of the race for the sake of the party? It would seem pretty hard to come this far in the process, spend a ridiculous amount of money and be on the verge of making history only to drop out of the race. What I think is interesting is that on one side you have Clinton supporters using the numbers of popular vote, delegates and superdelegates to make an argument as to why she should not only remain in the race but would be the best opponent to face John McCain in November and on the other side Obama supports use the very same numbers to argue that he is clearly the people's choice and should be the Democratic nominee in November.
While I do have a favorite amongst the three remaining candidates I'm finding myself starting to care less about the race and more about just wanting it to be over because it's getting exhausting. Unfortunately as far as American politics go, it seems like enough is never enough.