Drive-Thru Mortuary

The first drive-by open casket viewing premiered 30 years ago this month, but has only recently become a national trend.

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  “Hi, and welcome to McDeath. We put the fun in funerals!  May I have  your order, please?

“Yeah, I’d like to see my cousin Ernie.”

“I’m sorry, he was cremated.”

“Oh, well, can I see the ashes?”

“Sure. Would you like fries with that?”

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The Fifth Beatle

It’s been a little over a year since one of my all-time musical heroes joined the eternal recording session. RIP, old friend.

Mitch Teemley

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It seems so silly now, but as a kid growing up in sunny SoCal I had a dogged loyalty to our locally grown Beach Boys that required me to “hate” The Beatles, those foreigners with goofy haircuts. I was also absurdly jealous of the adoration they got. From, you know, girls. Duh. As if any other kind of adoration mattered.

Then I heard the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” and I fell in love. I didn’t know it then, but the cupid behind my crush was an unassuming genius named George (eventually Sir George) Martin, the producer who relentlessly pushed the Beatles to try new things, including that impossibly addictive opening chord.

Like a knight, Sir George rescued the maiden Beatles from obscurity as “one-time pop idols,” dragging them off to his castle-slash-recording studio at Abbey Road, constantly insisting they push themselves beyond the easy to the unimagined, the untried. The immortal.

When Paul McCartney

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Theology 101

Presentation1A professor of religious studies informed his students on the last day of the term that not one of them had demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of Christianity. He ordered them to take out a blank sheet of paper and, in one minute, explain the theological essence of Jesus’ teachings.

The students panicked. Some wrote nothing, others wrote and erased, wrote and erased. When the professor ordered them to bring their papers forward, some were shaking, others were angry, a few were sure they’d nailed it.

The students stared in horror as the professor flipped through the sheets, muttering, “No…wrong…not even close…absurd…”

He then stood, and with a red marker scribbled an “A” on each of their papers.

“It’s grace,” he said. “Have a good summer.”

© Mitch Teemley, 2017
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Earth Day is Us Day

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There are those who say, “We can’t afford environmental regulations–too many lost dollars (or pounds, or rubles, or yuan), too many lost jobs.” Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization:

  • Over 7 million humans a year die from air pollution
  • One quarter of all child deaths under age 5 are due to pollution
  • People with medical conditions directly related to air, water, soil and other forms of pollution: 200 million; people indirectly affected by pollutants (lower IQ, weakened immune system, etc.): approximately 2 1/2 billion
  • The economic effect in lost labor and medical expenses (never mind the immeasurable cost in human suffering): tens of trillions of dollars – every year

What is it we can’t afford, again?

Earth Day is Us Day.

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The Hard Work of Forgiveness

My new film Over-the-Rhine, which has its world premiere in Orlando next month, is about forgiveness. So the subject is very much on my mind.

OTR Poster2aHow do you forgive the unforgiveable? To begin with, you have to remember that, while there are unforgiveable acts, there are no unforgiveable people. Yes, tragically, a few souls have “seared consciences” (1 Timothy 4:2) and can no longer discern good from evil. But it is not possible—or necessary—for us to know for certain who those people are. It is possible—and necessary—for us to forgive. (Luke 6:37)

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

So, how do we forgive? To begin with, we stop trying to feel like we do, and do the hard work of raw forgiveness. “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor,” C.S. Lewis says, simply “act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets: when you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” (Mere Christianity)

Well, sure, but that’s only our neighbors. Right? Uncomfortably, Jesus offers no quarter for deserters. First, he defines neighbor as anyone who needs what we have to give (Luke 10:29-37). And then, in case we find wiggle room still, he insists we apply it to our enemies: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

But how?

The answer is there in his words. Did you see it? Pray. The more we pray for someone, the more real, the more human they become. And the more human they become, the harder it is to hate them.

So take the raw first steps. There’s a very good chance it will go badly. But press on anyway. As you do, your enemy will become more and more real. He will have a name. She will have a past. He will have made terrible choices…choices you yourself might have made if circumstances had been different. Keep praying for her. Every day.

Is forgiveness enough? Perhaps not, but it’s the foundation for all that follows: mercy, grace…

Maybe even love.

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Public Art

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’m a huge fan of public art (most of the time). You?

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The Wishing Map 61

Has there ever been a person who turned your life upside down, who re-shaped your destiny?

Mitch Teemley

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Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Fifteen: Destiny

Previously: Zack and Gina finally made up, commiserating over the fact that they would (presumably) never return to Ismara.

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Nearly two months had passed since school started. Gina and Zack were surviving. Sort of.

Mr. Trippifel boiled a frog to death in Biology: it didn’t know it was dying because the temperature rose so slowly. That’s me, Gina thought. Except I know.

Zack wrote a story entitled “Liulah, the Cloud Shepherd.” Mrs. Simonson gave him a C and told him to “write about real life.” So he wrote about trout fishing, and got an A. “See what happens when you write about real life?” said Mrs. Simonson. He’d never been trout fishing, but dead trouts sounded real, and real was what Mrs. Simonson wanted, so… He spent the rest of…

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