Archive for October, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this story in honor of Halloween.  Now that the day itself is here, I’ve got another little rough draft to share.  This one came out of a conversation after Tuesday night basketball, but I won’t tell you with who because, while I don’t mind you wondering about my mental stability, I don’t want you questioning theirs as well.  The same disclaimer for the first goes with this one, only double.  Let the squeamish turn back now.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  For the rest of us,  happy Halloween.  I hope you like it.


Gross Anatomy 

            The first day of class is always the hardest.  You never know what to expect.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited the day I walked into the lab for Gross Anatomy.  I’ve always been a hands-on type of learner, and there’s absolutely nothing more hands-on than a dissection.  I’ve always found a certain beauty in it.  The anticipation as the scalpel glides through flesh.  Peeling the skin back to reveal the intricate inner mechanisms; those delicate parts working in union to grant life.  It’s a wondrous thing to behold.  And here, finally, after cats and rats and fetal pigs, I get to practice those skills on a human being.

It took some time to find my lab station and my partner.  When everyone is wearing white coats, latex gloves, and face masks it’s hard to find anything among the homogeny.  She was in the back prepping our specimen.  Her name was Sarah according to her id badge, and she had fantastic green eyes, which was great because it was all that the standard lab outfit allowed me to see.  I introduced myself.  We didn’t shake hands, but I could tell by the way her eyes crinkled that she gave me a little smile.  Small talk was cut short when Dr. Timms called for attention at the front of the room and gave a short lecture on proper procedures, safety precautions, where to make our first cuts, and what we should be looking at today.  It was good stuff, but I was impatient to get started.  Apparently some of the other groups had questions, so I turned back to Sarah to talk until Dr. Timms gave us the all-clear.  She seemed to be just as eager as I was.

“So?  Excited?”  I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Of course.  I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I found out I was accepted.  It’s the highlight of the year.”

I liked this girl.  I could tell we had a lot in common.

“Where are you from originally?”  I asked.

“A small town in Illinois called Branburg.  I doubt you’ve ever heard of it; it’s more of a community really.”

“Are you planning on going back after graduation?”

She laughed and shook her head.  “Oh no.  Absolutely not.  Definitely Illinois, though.  Probably Chicago.”

“Chicago?  You’re ambitious; that’s big time.  You think you’ll be ready for that straight out of school?”

“I know, but being such a big city means there’s lots of opportunity there as well.  I’ll be alright.  What about yourself?”

“Me?  I don’t know, but I’ll tell you something -Chicago couldn’t hold me.  I’m going to be big.  They’ll make movies about me.”  She laughed and I liked her even more.  I went for it.  “Would you like to go out for food or coffee or something after class?  I’ll buy.”

She shook her head, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to give the wrong impression.  I don’t date colleagues.  I know what kind of relationship hang-ups we tend to have.”

I felt my face flush and my cheeks heat up.  I hated it when my face did that.  She was saying sorry again, I think, but I wasn’t listening.  I was trying to make the blood go down by force of will.  Finally I muttered a quick “Don’t worry about it.  I understand completely.”  It was a blessing when I finally heard Dr. Timms say we could begin.

I pushed Sarah out of my mind and turned toward the specimen.  Male.  Mid-forties.  Receding hair-line and a bald spot right in the middle of a ring of gray.  Just shy of six foot and probably about two hundred and fifty pounds.  He had a round belly that was going to be hell to cut through.  I stared at him, and he stared back with wild, terrified eyes.  His hands continually clenched and unclenched.  The straps held everything so tightly in place that the hands and eyes were the only movement he could manage.  I smiled at him.  Stress melted away.  My embarrassment at being rejected melted away.  Sarah melted away.  It was just me and the specimen.  I knelt by his head.

“I bet you wonder why you’re here, and what we’re doing.”  I held the scalpel I didn’t remember picking up close to his eye.  “We’re here to practice.  We’re here to learn how to do things right.  Some of us will still only notch up two or three before the police break down the door.  Some of us will be Bundys or Gacys.  But me?

I want to be a Ripper.”


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Tomorrow I’m going to play in the Beebe Community Tennis Singles Tournament.  I am not anywhere near the shape I need to be in to play a day full of singles tennis.  My biggest fear is that I give out halfway through the first set and lay moaning on the court while my opponent keeps pelting balls at me.

I also drew a tough player for my first match.  He’s young, he’s fast, and he’s on the high school team so he’s been playing a lot.  In other words, he’s the complete opposite of me in every way.  My game plan is to scream ‘Super Lob!”  every time I hit the ball, and just keep smacking the highest lobs I possibly can.

I guess I should go to bed, so I can be well rested.  I’ll try and keep this updated throughout the day so you don’t lose track of how sore and stiff and tired I get before I cry.

Here’s the draw for the tournament if you’re interested.

Update: Lost 6-0, 6-0 in round one, but I would like to point out that a lot of those games went to deuce.  I just couldn’t finish one apparently.  Consolation bracket here I come!

Update: Won 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of the consolation bracket.  Next round is tomorrow at one o’clock.  I made it to Sunday!

Update: Lost 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the consolation bracket.  I’m very, very tired.

So ends my tournament run.

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As most of you know, today is a special day.  A day to celebrate.  And no, I’m not talking about the anniversary of some great event like the 1953 British nuclear test of Totem 2 being carried out at Emu Field, South Australia (the consequences: a short term drop in emus, but a long term gain in two-headed emus), or the U.S. prison population in1994 topping 1 million for the first time ever (Huzzah for milestones!).  Nor do I mean the birth of famed sewing machine innovator Isaac Singer (1811), or notorious mob boss John Gotti (1940), although on any other day, I’d agree with you.

Today is special because it’s my wife’s birthday.  If she were a hobbit, she’d be one year from coming-of-age, by which I mean, of course, that she is 29, now and forever.  And every year she turns 29, she only becomes lovelier, and more beautiful.

Everyone in the house was still asleep when I left for work this morning, so I don’t get to wish her a happy birthday until I get home.  We’re going out to eat tonight, and then we’ll come back to admire our newly painted house, which, along with an apple/cream cheese bundt cake I made, is her present.  She makes my shopping easy.

So happy birthday to my wife.  I hope it’s a great one.

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I believe this is the last of the notes from our church class on the history of the Restoration Movement.  We’ve actually still got a couple of weeks of actual class left, but I thought I’d go ahead and post the notes.  We didn’t haven’t started these yet.  I intended to go into them tonight, but we got slightly off topic discussing racism, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement.  I reiterated the point that the main reason behind studying our history as a church is to see which attitudes and actions led to Christ, and which led to division, and by seeing the difference between the two, and by tracing the evolution of our beliefs, we’re better equipped to face problems here and now.  If studying history doesn’t give us perspective on the present and future, then it’s just a bunch of stories.  Here’s the handy downloadable version.  


Restoration Class Notes – Week Twelve 


Restoration Notes

Week Twelve


I.                    1967-Present: A Crisis of Identity

a.       A Few New Publications

                                                               i.      Axe on the Root

1.      book by Ira Y. Rice Jr.

2.      came out in 1966-67

3.      attacked liberalism in Churches of Christ especially in educational institutions

                                                             ii.      Contending for the Faith

1.      monthly publication started by Rice in 1970

2.      also attacked liberalism

3.      published in bold those who he thought were leading Churches of Christ away from being the only Christians

                                                            iii.      Mission

1.      magazine intended to be a more progressive voice

2.      founded in 1967

3.      didn’t assume we had finished restoring the New Testament truth and focused on searching for truth.

4.      commented on current issues (racism, Vietnam, poverty, etc.), and called on the church to rethink Biblical interpretation and our definition of restoration.

b.      Numerical Growth Then Stagnation

                                                               i.      Publications showed two different tendencies in Churches of Christ

1.      sectarian conservatism

2.      progressivism

3.      would only grow more and more pronounced to the present day

                                                             ii.      1960’s and 70’s

1.      Churches of Christ were mostly able to find middle ground, skewed towards conservatives

2.      Tended to continue programs and attitudes of post-war generation

                                                            iii.      Churches of Christ grew numerically through 1980

1.      current estimates

a.       1965 – 915,000 members

b.      1980 – 1,240,820 members

2.      Long period of growth ended in the 1980’s

a.       1990 – 1,284,056 members

b.      2000 – 1,264,152 members

c.       Although outside the U.S. we went from 747,568 members in 1990 (with 660 missionaries, less than the 724 in 1967) to just shy of a million by 1999 (with 824 missionaries)

3.      Why did we stop growing in the 80’s and 90’s?

a.       Possible answers

                                                                                                                                       i.      Post-war religious boom was over

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Traditional evangelism methods no longer worked

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Lost our identity as the only Christians so we quit evangelizing other religious groups

                                                                                                                                   iv.      Stopped emphasizing evangelism and started emphasizing social ministries to the poor

                                                                                                                                     v.      American society shifted to make it socially unacceptable to call people ‘lost’

                                                                                                                                   vi.      Cultural shift toward postmodernism made our rational approach to restoration less appealing

b.      Probably some combination of all of the above, along with tensions within our fellowship. 

c.       Conservative and Progressive Institutions

                                                               i.      Tensions came from two directions

1.      “Conservatives”

a.       Characterized by:

                                                                                                                                       i.      Churches of Christ are the only Christians

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Most Churches of Christ were becoming too liberal

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Need to get back to the golden years of the combative 20’s and 30’s

b.      View of Education

                                                                                                                                       i.      Suspicious of higher education

1.      believed Christian colleges produced skeptical scholars instead of believing preachers.

2.      formed their own religious institutions

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Schools of Preaching

1.      approximately 50 in existence in 2000.

2.      usually housed by single congregations with enrollments of 12-20 students

3.      most offered certificates, never tried for accreditation, and focused curriculum on the content of the Bible.

4.      Large preacher schools had lecture ships

a.       Strongly influenced the conservative direction

b.      Even lecture on book’s of the Bible would focus on the denomination’s and the  liberal’s departures from the faith.

c.       Periodicals       

                                                                                                                                       i.      Contending for the Faith

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Firm Foundation

1.      conservative interests bought it in 1983

2.      made William Cline and ‘Buster’ Dobbs editors

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Spiritual Sword

1.      started by Thomas B. Warren

a.       intellectual leader of the conservative wing

b.      taught at Freed-Hardeman and Harding Graduate School before moving on to preacher training schools

                                                                                                                                   iv.      Styles are Similar

1.      call out false teachers by name

2.      point out error in congregations and colleges

3.      sometimes even attack one another

2.      Progressives

a.       Forerunners were W. Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett

                                                                                                                                       i.      Came from very conservative churches.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Began to move out of sectarianism and towards a message of unity in the late 50’s

b.      Tend to be especially influential in colleges

                                                                                                                                       i.      Most grew academically

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Many gained accreditations and took the name ‘university’

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Big influence through students and lectureships

c.       Church sponsored lectureships became influential

                                                                                                                                       i.      Nashville Jubilee (1989 – 2000)

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop (1976 – Present)

d.      Periodicals and Individuals

                                                                                                                                       i.      Wineskins

1.      most widespread progressive magazine

2.      begun in 1992

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Rubel Shelly (1945 – present)

1.      moved from being a vocal and combative conservative to embracing a more progressive view of being Christians only.

2.      now denounced by the conservative wing more frequently than any other leader.

d.      Hermeneutics, Culture, and Heritage

                                                               i.      Hermeneutics

1.      one of the main things separating conservatives and progressives

2.      Conservatives still tend to filter the Bible through the 3-Part Hermeneutic (command, example, necessary inference)

a.       Church of Christ scholars began to question this by the late 1960’s

b.      Thomas H. Olbricht

                                                                                                                                       i.      Teacher at Abilene Christian, and Pepperdine

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Isn’t it more biblical to emphasize God’s acts through history?

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Shouldn’t we look at what genre of literature a book falls under (poetry, history, law, prophecy, etc.) and take that into account when we interpret what it means?

c.       Conservatives condemned the nuanced approachas a “New Hermeneutic”

                                                                                                                                       i.      Of course, the argument of silence proved a point of contention

1.      has been problematic in Churches of Christ for well over 100 years.

2.      broader approach to biblical interpretation doesn’t make a hard and fast rule about silence

a.       instead it looks at each issue on a case by case basis

b.      Does this practice reflect the nature of God?  Does it violate a clear biblical principle?  Does it build up the church?

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Tends to be too open-ended for conservatives

1.      rather insist that silence condemns

2.      more recently it has led to a focus on clapping, raising hands, and praise teams.

                                                             ii.      Culture

1.      another point of division

2.      Conservatives tend to be ignorant of, or hostile to, shifts in the larger culture

a.       Speak to their own church subculture with a longing for a return to the good old days of a Christian America

b.      Progressives tend to try and find new methods and innovations to spread the gospel as culture changes, although this can lead to the danger of abandoning truth.

                                                            iii.      History

1.      Both claim biblical heritage, and some in both groups claim Restoration heritage.

2.      Who’s right?

a.       Conservatives more true to 30’s and 40’s

b.      Progressives more true to Stone and Campbell

e.       Identity Crisis

                                                               i.      Two distinct groups begs the question:  Who are Churches of Christ?

                                                             ii.      Most churches and colleges fall into a broad mainstream

1.      don’t fall to either extreme

2.      began to shift somewhat towards the progressive pole in the 90’s onward

                                                            iii.      Reuel Lemmons (1912-1989)

1.      represented this mainstream

2.      editor of the Firm Foundation  and Image magazines

3.      started off harshly criticizing opponents

4.      later tried to remain neutral, sometimes criticizing both groups

5.      towards the end of his life, his writing became more and more progressive.

                                                           iv.      Since 2000

1.      harder to identify extremes and mainstream

2.      largely lost our uniformity from the 40’s and 50’s

3.      individual congregations tend to have wider differences over issues

                                                             v.      Some attempts at unity

1.      Restoration Forums

a.       Begun in 1984

b.      Annual meetings to discuss similarities and differences with other Restoration groups

2.      Shared work with other Christian groups

a.       Promise Keepers

b.      Local Ministerial Alliances

c.       Max Lucado’s popularity among all Christians is a good indicator

3.      One major division

a.       International Churches of Christ split off in the 1990’s

                                                                                                                                       i.      Insisted on a particular form of evangelism and discipleship.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Criticized as ‘cult-like’

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Also known as the Boston Movement

4.      2006 – Hundred Year Anniversary of the Census that marked our split

a.       Leaders from all groups met at the annual Restoration Forum to plan events for the 200th anniversary of the Declaration and Address

b.      Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop included speakers from Disciples as well as Churches of Christ

c.       Stone-Campbell Dialogue (a unity forum begun in 1999) met in Nashville, and all worshipped together.

d.      North American Christian Convention (largest gathering of Christian Churches) included speakers from both groups

5.      World Convention of Churches of Christ

a.       Meets every four years

b.      Last one was Nashville in 2008

c.       Keeps the global movement informed

d.      Includes all three major Restoration groups

e.       2012 meeting is in Brazil

f.        A Spiritual Awakening

                                                               i.      Present day work towards unity is a sign of hope.

                                                             ii.      Many in churches of Christ today seem more interested in practicing spiritual disciplines (prayer, study, fasting), Christian living, and helping the poor, than disputing doctrine. 


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This has rapidly become my go to post for Tuesdays.   Tonight I’ll blame the fact that I’m still tired from camping.  The subject of this week’s random Wikipedia article is:

Edin Cornelius Alfsen.

Sounds like this guy had an interesting life of foreign mission work and what-not, but more importantly, he had a cool name.  Why aren’t more people named Cornelius nowadays?



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We went on a camping trip to Petit Jean mountain over the weekend.  Tents and everything.   Gabe loved it, and got to spend a lot of time playing with kids, eating s’mores, and going hiking.  It was a fun trip spent with some good people.  Even though it stormed Saturday night and I’m still so tired I can barely keep my eyes open writing this, I had a great time.

I had thought to put some pictures in here, because, really, if I’m going to tell you about my camping trip the least I could do is show you how great it was.  But, alas, I forgot my camera.  I guess this is one of those times where the advent of the smart phone really becomes advantageous.  You never have to be without a decent camera if you carry a newer iPhone around in your pocket.

But, alas, I don’t have one of those either.

So you get a few words, and not nearly enough to do the trip justice at that.

But, alas, I’m tired.

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Let’s say you had an opportunity to go anywhere in the continental U.S. for two nights with airfare and hotel paid.  It can be any city, you can stay in whatever hotel you want (although probably not the presidential suite), and you can go whenever you want to.  Where would you go and why?

Also, try and limit it to places I haven’t been.


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