On Memorial Day Weekend

MemorialDay2012Here is a post I wrote last year on Memorial Day. I don’t think I can say it any better as we head into this weekend, so I wanted to remind you (and me) about what living in this area has meant to me personally.

One of the benefits to living in Virginia Beach has been getting to know so many military families. We have several bases here and in the surrounding area; there are over 20 active military installations in Virginia. Here in the Tidewater area, these include the Army represented (e.g., Fort Eustis, Fort Story), the Coast Guard, and the Navy (e.g., Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, Oceana Naval Air Station).  That brings many military folks into our daily life. Whether we are talking about our neighborhood, our church, our place of employment, and so on, we have many active and retired military here in our community.

So Memorial Day takes on a new meaning. We have lived here for over 14 years, and I’ve never lived in an area that had so many military personnel present. And it matters. Memorial Day is not just another day off of work. It is not just a day to get the pool going or to break out the grill. Rather, it is a time to reflect on the meaningful service and sacrifice of the many folks in this area. We can discuss and debate particular policies (and neighbors/coworkers/etc. do), but what cannot be debated is the level of commitment it takes to serve the country in this unique capacity.

So Thank You for your service. Today we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country.

You Can’t Take It With You

This past weekend I saw the play You Can’t Take It With You at the Regent Theatre.

Here’s part of the plot synopsis:

At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before you realize that if they are mad, then the rest of the world is madder. In contrast to these delightful people are the unhappy Kirbys. Tony, the attractive young son of the Kirbys, falls in love with Alice Sycamore and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore house on the wrong evening. The shock sustained by Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, who are invited to eat cheap food, shows Alice that marriage with Tony is out of the question. The Sycamores find it hard to realize Alice’s view. Tony knows the Sycamores live the right way with love and care for each other, while his own family is the one that’s crazy…

Believe it or not, I was actually in this play when I was in high school. It was my only foray into the theatre. I played “The Man” (or “G Man”), the lead federal agent who comes to investigate Ed’s pamphlets and ends up arresting everyone. If I recall correctly, the key for me was to have a part that didn’t require a lot of memorizing lines. Whenever you play “The Man” or some other character with no name, you have a good shot at limited lines! In any case, when I did the play and took on the character of “The Man”, I asked the director if I could fire the cap gun, and she eventually let me do that on the last night of the show. Funny memory. BTW: the actor who played “The Man” in the Regent production did a great job with it, far better than I ever did. (Although I did notice he didn’t actually fire the gun. But it was not the last show of the run, so you never know what he might do!)

The point of the play is that it is important to do what you love. It is about rethinking expectations others have for you, especially in the area of just making money for the sake of making money, particularly if you do not enjoy the work you do. I know many people who have spent years in business or another field that they really don’t like but they do it for the money. I think there is something to be said for the underlying message here: that, if possible,  try to position yourself in a job that you delight in, something that you personally find satisfying. From a Christian perspective, work is done to honor God, and so what is done is not as important. Christians can value so many occupations, and Christians are instructed not to measure a person by their appearance or wealth but by their worth as made in the image of God. There is an intrinsic dignity in being human. As far as work itself: The key is how a person does his or her work and toward what end – to bring honor and glory to God.

A Question With Only One Answer?

Perhaps you’ve seen the answer Miss California gave to the question about marriage. She stated that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The problem with the question was that it only had one “right” answer. It was the politically correct answer. I’ve never seen such backlash for someone answering by giving her honest opinion. Apparently it was an opinion held by many others, judging by the applause in the background. It is an incredibly divisive subject to be asked about in this venue – one designed for soundbites and not substantive reflection and nuance.

I’m not sure what to make of Perez Hilton. Obviously, he felt passionately about the topic. He seemed absolutely outraged by Miss California’s answer. Check out his comments about taking back his apology and calling her various derogatory names. Unbelievable. Her convictions apparently cost her the crown. To her credit, whether you agree with her opinion or not, she stood by her comments and by her convictions. I don’t think she took this tone, but it reminded me of the saying: If you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question.

It raises for me the larger question of whether we are going to be able to coexist in our culture. We are a diverse and pluralistic society. By definition, we are going to disagree. It isn’t diversity if we all believe the same thing. I remember reading one author years ago refer to the idea that “diversity with substance offends” (or close to that). I remember thinking that it was as if we had to be reminded that diversity actually refers to differences (of opinion, beliefs, values, and so on). The reaction by Perez is a good illustration of how out of touch some segments of our society are with other segments of our society. I think I would have to say the same thing if Miss California acted surprised to have lost the crown over her answer. It raises the question: Can these segments coexist, even when one segment will be offended by the other segment on one topic and vice versa on another topic?

The Magic Kingdom

mickey-at-wishes-do-come-true

Today is a day to recover. We spent the entire day yesterday at the Magic Kingdom. This means arriving in time for the park to open at 9am, quick photo on Main Street, then off to the right to do Buzz Lightyear, then Space Mountain. Then off to the speedway for a race! Then a lot of the younger rides, like Peter Pan, It’s a Small World (yes, still ringing in my head!), Snow White’s scary adventures, and so on. Then a snack while watching Wishes Do Come True routine. How about the Haunted Mansion? Sure. At some point we had lunch, and then some of the bigger rides, like Splash Mountain and Big Mountain Railroad. Then Mickey’s Philharmonic for a chance to sit and do the 4D experience. We eventually made it to the Tiki Room and Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, as well as the Jungle River Cruise. We wen to Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, repeated a few of the kids’ favorite rides and tried a few in the younger section, like Barnstorming. We had dinner and hit the carousel for a photo op and then off to reserve a spot for the parade and fireworks. The parade came through, Tinker Bell did her thing, and the fireworks were quite good. By 9pm there is a mad rush to get back to the monorail or ferry! That was a 12 hour day. The good news was that we had reasonable lines – nothing longer than 2o minutes, which is almost unheard of at the Magic Kingdom.

Shamu

I saw Shamu do his thing today. Very impressive. He did his wave to the crowd, and he did his splash. (Although, I should note that he did two of the three planned splashes of the ‘soak areas’, so I think he may have been holding out for more compensation.)  The whales that went before him were impressive, too. Lots of flips. I haven’t been to Sea World since I was a kid, so it was fun to watch the sea lions, otters, killer whales, and so on. The arctic flight was fun, too. It’s nice to experience all of this with children – to see how they take it in.

CT’s Top News Stories of 08

Christianity Today’s (CT) editors and writers selected the top ten news stories of 2008. Here are the stories they believed “have shaped or will significantly shape, evangelical life, thought, or mission” (p. 12):

  1. Election 2008: Democrats woo evangelical vote, making only slight gains from Bush era.
  2. Voters turn back California Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.
  3. Christians in Orissa, India, again become scapegoats for Hindu extremists.
  4. Anglican Communion continues to implode in slow motion.
  5. Christians flee Iraq and Gaza.
  6. Candidate’s religious associations come under scrutiny.
  7. Ministries hold their breath as financial crisis threatens the global economy.
  8. Muslim and Christian interfaith dialogues get serious.
  9. Todd Bentley’s Florida Outpouring divides Charismatic movement.
  10. Texas authorities raid FLDS ranch.

Off Topic: Hoops for the Homeless

Jay Jump, a friend of mine here in Virginia Beach, organized Hoops for the Homeless, a 3 on 3 tournament to benefit People In Need (P.i.N.), a ministry that focuses on meeting the needs of the homeless in the community. He put together a video of the event. There was a nice turnout for a first time event, and the participants were a good group of guys who essentially played much of the day for a good cause. If you are in the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area, you might want to keep it in mind for next year. He intends to make it an annual fund raiser.