“Alexa, will you please forgive us?”

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Featured Image -- 41676My Featured Blogger this week is Phillip Mullins of the oddly named blog site Phillip Mullins. Actually, Phillip, does have a theme: it’s science, technology (he formerly called his site “Second Rate Scientist”), family, kids, faith, life and… Well, OK, he writes about pretty much everything. But what ties it all together is a waggish curiosity about life and a delightfully self-effacing sense of humor. And then there’s the occasional insight that reminds you what’s going on behind the wit. Bottom line: There’s nothing second rate about this guy.

Visit him now!

Phillip Mullins

I, for one, am not very comfortable with our new digital assistant lifestyle simply because it doesn’t enforce the common etiquette of manners observed in polite society. We, on our thrones of sentient thought, simply tell our digital underlings what to do. These phrases we use are actually called “commands”!

Who do we think we are?

I propose that Amazon, Apple, and others add a “Human Decency” setting to our DA’s so that, for instance, our children are not growing up simply demanding our (admittedly non-living) digital friends to obey our whims like we are some kind of 17th Century English aristocrats.

Something like:


Kid: “Alexa, play Baby Shark”

Alexa: I’m sorry. Are you talking to me?

“ALEXA. PLAY BABY SHARK”

Hmm, is that really how we ask?

“. . . I don’t know?”

{Silence}

“ALEXA, PLAY THE . . .”

Would you talk to your teacher that…

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Tuesday Happy Break

It’s Tuesday and there’s a ton of work ahead.

But then there’s this…

(Click on any image to enlarge or start slide show)

OK, back to work, but with just a hint, perhaps, of a silly, irrational smile.

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Only One Life

preachingI avoid “Christianese” like the plague. I can speak it fluently, but it’s not my native language. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bona fide Jesus follower. It’s just that those who speak in code seldom reach anyone but themselves. Still…

When a heart is ready to hear, it can hear in any language.

The Institute of the Arts was a tiny academy offering classes in dance, drama, music, and art. And I was its new Artistic Director. I was too young, but that didn’t matter because I was 20-something and knew everything.

We occupied the middle floor of a three storey building on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The bottom floor was home to The Church of the Highway.

It was also home to the restrooms.

I stopped by with some supplies the Sunday before we opened, and went downstairs to use the men’s. As I entered the lobby, I heard a painfully un-tuned piano, and peeked through the church’s doorway at Mrs. Potter leading Rev. Potter in a final hymn.

Rev. Potter then got up and welcomed the congregation (Mrs. Potter), led them (her) in a prayer and proceeded to preach loudly and fervently, rolling his r’s and pounding the pulpit, while Mrs. P shouted hallelujahs.

I ducked into the restroom and saw a plaque that read, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last” (C. T. Studd). I was not a believer at the time because, as I said, I already knew everything. So I took the plaque down and put it in a drawer.

That was a proclamation of war. Every day Rev. Potter would put the plaque back up. And every day I would take it down. Sometimes several times a day.

Meanwhile, The Church of the Highway was running out of money. A congregation with only one member can’t last forever. Neither can an arts academy with only a few dozen students. Rev. Potter must have been losing confidence.

I know I was.

More and more, my smoke-and-mirrors sense of purpose was beginning to fail. Who was I? Why was I? (I write about it in greater detail here). My foundation of self was giving way and I was starting to fall through to the floor below. So, I started reading the Bible.

One night, after reading the words, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3), I rushed downstairs 5f27b753a95b2b1ccbfec8cabdc3fd15and pulled Rev. Potter’s plaque off the wall. But I didn’t put it in the drawer. I held it to my heart and recited, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” And then I cried. Because as corny and religious as those words were, I’d finally realized they were true.

I’ve never doubted my purpose since then.

So thank you, Rev. Potter. Your congregation has two members now.

But you have to get that piano tuned!

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Perfect Love

Perfect Love

“And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children,

and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”

~From Malachi 4:6

(the final verse of the Old Testament)

Happy Father’s Day!

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All That Matters

Fatherswingingdaughterinplay_0“Love is a perpetual motion machine, the only one that has ever been invented. The more you use it, the more it produces.” ~From the in-the-works novel Over-the-Rhine.

“All that matters is faith expressing itself through love.” ~Galatians 5:6

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Music from My Movies

Do the Notzilla!

I wrote three songs for the closing credits of my new feature film Notzilla, each in a different early 60s pop style, and each devoted to the national craze set off by an escaped kaiju (giant monster) in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first Dino Surfin’ was a catchy surf number, the second Where Have all the Monster’s Gone? a tender folk ballad.

The last song featured in the film is a classic early 60s dance tune by the girl group Dyna and the Saurelles. Naturally, it features directions on how to do the hot new dance “The Notzilla.” Feel free to sing along and…dance, baby, dance!

(The recording is posted after the lyrics below)

VERSE 1

There’s really nothing to it, honey,

you’ll be on top of it all.

(Come on, baby, do the Notzilla!)

If attitude is altitude

then, honey, you’re ten storeys tall!

(Come on, baby, do the Notzilla!)

CHORUS

Just life up your tail and let out a pop.

You just can’t fail to do a little hop.

Then throw up your claws, and do it some more.

Dramatic pause – Now roar!

(Get your roar on!)

VERSE 2

Your fins, they look like paper dolls,

your zipper comes up to your neck.

(Come on, baby, do the Notzilla!)

But, honey, you’re original,

a one-dinosaur discotheque

(Come on, baby, do the Notzilla!)

Repeat CHORUS

This recording was produced by Steve Goers, the composer of Notzilla’s score, and performed by Adia Dobbins.

Note: No part of this song or recording may be copied or reproduced without first obtaining written permission from its composer Mitch Teemley (Og Hollow Music, 2018 – ASCAP)
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Real Diversity!

original-22256-1449252815-383 YEARS AGO, G. K. Chesterton, one of the great thinkers, writers, philosophers and wits of the 20th Century (and one of my all time heroes) passed away. Two years ago, I cited his views on diversity and family, but didn’t know the source. Turns out it was his landmark work Heretics.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Modern writers who have suggested that the family is a bad institution [because it] is not always very congenial. Of course, the family is a good institution because it is uncongenial. It is wholesome precisely because it contains so many divergencies and varieties. It is like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of something resembling anarchy… The men and women who, for good reasons and bad, revolt against the family, are, for good reasons and bad, simply revolting against mankind. Those who wish, rightly or wrongly, to step out of all this, do definitely wish to step into a narrower world. They are dismayed and terrified by the largeness and variety of the family. I do not say, for a moment, that the flight to this narrower life may not be the right thing for the individual…but I do say that anything is bad and artificial which tends to make these people succumb to the strange delusion that they are stepping into a world which is actually larger and more varied than their own. The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.”

Mitch Teemley

Somewhere in the lush undergrowth of G.K. Chesterton’s essays is a delightful little piece about tolerance. In this essay, Chesterton avers that, because we crave diversity chesterton-portrait-small(the ultimate human adventure) some of us move away from our parochial towns or suburbs into the heart of a throbbing metropolis. And there, amid the smorgasbord of languages and cultures, hip deep in the goulash of hobbies, fancies and obsessions, we are able to find a group of people…exactly like ourselves. In their presence we come more and more to believe that we are the norm, and that there is something wrong with those who are not precisely like us.

If you want a real challenge, on the other hand, if you truly desire to learn tolerance, talk to the guy across the hall. Or the woman in the next cubicle. Or the couple in the front pew. Or simply sit down and…

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