Dr. Frankenstein, I am

I have created a monster.

There once was a time when I was undefeated at the board game Risk. No longer. My daughter, Tabitha, has taken be down twice in a row.

For the uninitiated, Risk is a game where you try to conquer the world with your armies. The winner literally destroys all other would be tyrants.

Last night, we (Trese, Tab, Meredith, Cameron, Matt and I) brought in the new year with a Risk game. Ending time: 2 a.m. The really bad thing this time was that I came in fourth. All three of the women outlasted me–and Matt and Cameron. Cameron might have done better, but he was smart and went to bed, leaving his substantial armies in Great Britain open to slow death at the hands of the rest.

So I begin this new year as a failed conquering — Ferrell, the Fallen. This is what happens when you let a daughter study military history in college. She pulls a Napoleon on you without the Waterloo.

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A little Anne Lamott in the morning

In her book, Traveling Mercies, Annie Lamott tells about watching a movie about gypsies. In the film, the young girls seem full of life and are “practicing” for adulthood while the old women are full of life and dancing. In the middle, the women are pretty weighted down by the cares of caring for the young and the old and just getting by.

“Where does that leave a youngish middle-aged woman like me” Lamott asks. “Maybe it leaves me needing to consider how wealthy I am in the knowledge that the girl of my past is still in me while a marvelous dreadlocked crone is in the future–and that I hold both of these females inside.”

I love that. Of course, for me it’s that I hold inside me the boy of my past and the marvelously spry old man of my future, and that they may not be all that different.

Lord, teach us

Monday afternoon we held the monthly meeting of the BGCT Communications Team, and we started by lifting some prayer concerns to God. Then we let God speak to us.

Mark 1:21-22 says: “And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (ESV)

It’s good to be reminded of the special nature of Christ’s teaching. Many of us have read His words, plus many words about Him, so many times that we forget the uniqueness, power and authority that they possess. At least I do.

I saw a note earlier in the day from Dan McGee, interim director of the BGCT’s Congregational Leadership Team, about the importance of spiritual formation. That got me to thinking. How, during this special time of the year, am I allowing the Holy Spirit to continue forming me?

Christmas is a good time to be reminded of the ongoing importance of allowing God to shape us, mold us, build us.

Lord, teach us.

(Originally published by me on the We Are Texas Baptists blog on this date.)

Looking back at independence

I visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia yesterday for the first time. I get the same sense of awe every time I enter a building of historical importance — to imagine George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin and the rest walking into the same rooms joking and arguing, to know that Mr. Washington sat in the presiding officer’s chair. Amazing!

A great thing about this trip is that my wife and three of our kids got to experience this, as well. At the building next door which served as our nation’s second capitol, the park ranger repeatedly asked Meredith and Cameron questions. And they answered correctly. He was amazed and asked our older daughter Tabitha about them. She told them they are home schooled. We are blessed to be able to do this type of education.

After this wonderful experience, I then hear Mia Farrow speak about her family motto — with knowledge comes responsibility. I think about the great knowledge that our founding fathers possessed, but they did not allow it to just satisfy themselves; they put it to work and created this great nation of government by, of and for the people. To honor our nation’s founders, we must be looking today for our own responsibilities and step up to meet them.

Touched by Mia

Today, I heard Mia Farrow speak at the international conference of the Public Relations Society of America. Amazing! She communicated with a mixture of facts and stories regarding the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. I knew, of course, about Darfur; but it had not been connecting with me. There was something about seeing this somewhat frail, western celebrity pouring her whole being into this situation that grabbed my heart and my mind.

Tonight, I became a member of the Genocide Intervention Network. I wrote there, “It is easy to condemn what the Nazis did before I was born; but now I stand condemned for not having stepped up sooner as various genocidal situations have arisen in recent years. Of course, I always have condemned genocide, but I have been too ‘busy’ to do anything. I heard Mia Farrow speak today, Oct. 21, 2007, and I hope I will never be the same again.”

Hooray! Gonzalez resigns

Alberto Gonzalez has finally stepped down as U.S. attorney general. It shouldn’t have taken this long.

What distresses me, however, is President Bush’s comment that Gonzalez was “a man of integrity, decency and principle.” Hogwash! Even if Gonzalez didn’t perjure himself, which I think he did, he was involved in some underhanded dealings that undermine the integrity of the high office of attorney general.

Hensarling nixes energy future

I love H.R. 3221, also called the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007. It was passed by the House Aug. 4, 2007, by a vote of 241 – 172.

Rep. Hensarling voted against this wonderful bill. He was one of 163 Republicans and nine Democrats on the losing side. Twenty-six Republicans and 215 Democrats voted for it.

I hope to find out more about this is coming days, but this is the kind of thing that makes me think about becoming a Democrat.

Here’s more on the bill:

H.R.3221
“Title: Moving the United States toward greater energy independence and security, developing innovative new technologies, reducing carbon emissions, creating green jobs, protecting consumers, increasing clean renewable energy production, and modernizing our energy infrastructure, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for the production of renewable energy and energy conservation.” (Congressional Record)

The bill would seek to do several things:

1) The Green Jobs Act of 2007 — It would “establish an energy efficiency and renewable energy worker training program.”

2) The International Climate Cooperation Re-engagement Act of 2007 — It looks to me that this portion of the bill would put the U.S. back on track to participate with the rest of the world in combating global warming. In other words, it seems to repudiate President Bush’s decision of not signing onto the Kyoto Protocol. It also would establish an Office of Global Climate Change within the Department of State.

3) The Small Energy Efficient Businesses Act — It would provide small businesses with incentives to purchase energy efficient buildings, equipment, fixtures and other technology because it is in the national interest.

4) The Renewable Fuel Capital Investment Program — It would “promote the research, development, manufacture and bringing to market of renewable energy sources by encouraging venture capital investments in smaller enterprises primarily engaged such activities.”

5) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy — It would create this agency within the Department of Energy to “overcome the long-term and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy technologies.” The agency would seek to identify and promote “revolutionary advances in fundamental sciences,” to translate “scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations,” and to accelerate “transformational technological advances in areas that industry by itself is not likely to undertake because of technical and financial uncertainty.”

6) Marine Renewable Energy Research and Development Act of 2007 — It would support programs of “research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to expand marine renewable energy production.”

7) Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007 — It would “support programs of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to expand the use of geothermal energy production from hydrothermal systems.”