a worthwhile life

I was reading this story this morning in the Cedar Rapids Gazette (my local newspaper). The story is about the rediscovery, in northern Arkansas, of the thought-to-be-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker. This woodpecker sounds like a truly magnificent bird; it has a three-foot wingspan, and stands nearly 2 feet tall. But the thing that astonished me was the quote in the second sentence of the story. Here’s the lead:

Iowa conservationists and bird enthusiasts, like their counterparts worldwide, beamed with joy Thursday at the news that the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker, long believed to be extinct, has been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas.

‘‘This makes me think my life has been worthwhile,’’ said Leslee Spraggins, director of the Nature Conservancy in Iowa, who helped preserve portions of the Big Woods as director of the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas from 1993 to 2000.

The realization that her efforts likely contributed to the survival of a species thought to have vanished brought tears to her eyes, said Spraggins, 50, of Dubuque.

“This makes me think my life has been worthwhile.” Because they found a bird? In the woods? In Arkansas? I have nothing against said bird (see paragraph 1 of this post), or said woods, or said state, but a 50-year-old woman who find her life suddenly worthwhile because it has been found? This saddens me. Birds are magnificent creatures. And there is much to be said for nature conservancy; we need to be good stewards of the earth that we’re entrusted with. But they’re just birds.

It seems to me that rather than having some event suddenly make my life worthwhile when I’m 50 (some 22 years hence), I’d like to think through right now the things that would make my life worthwhile, so that I can pursue those things in the upcoming years. And as I make that list, I want them to be things of eternal significance, not just things that are going to burn at the end of time. So what would make my life “worthwhile”? Let me rephrase that. My life is already “worthwhile” because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if none of the thing I list happen, life has been worth living. But what are the things that will cause me to look back from age 50, or 60, or 70, with gratitude and say “Ahhh, it’s been a long road, but that makes it worth it all…”? Here’s just a few.

  • Seeing my child(ren) become mature believers who will in turn raise up godly children of their own.
  • Experiencing the joys of a marriage that has lasted 30, 40, 50 years.
  • Seeing new believers in the church because of my ministry; and seeing believers encouraged and challenged by my life.
  • Seeing leadership raised up in the Church to carry on ministry long after I’m gone.

This is just a short list, and I’m finding it challenging even as I’m writing it. These are goals that are long in the making… but they are achieved only one day at a time.

The war by? on? Christians in America…

Stanley Kurtz has an excellent (if a bit long) column today discussing the current edition of Harper’s Magazine – cover story: “The Christian Right’s War on America”.

He argues that by accusing the “Christian Right” of being hateful and “at war with America”, Harper’s (as just one participant in a trend by the media) is themselves promoting “hatred” of a group… the Christian Right. He writes:

According to Harper’s, conservative Christians are making “war on America.” Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a “war on America” by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews?

It’s worth reading the whole article.

bleary eyed

I know I owe everybody a blog post (it’s been a couple days… time to keep writing) but it’s been pretty slow around here lately. My latest task at work has been to manually compare two 200-ish-page documents and mark all the changes. (At this point, the geeks reading this are asking “why manually diff it when you could use a tool?” The answer is, I’m looking for functional differences, not trivial wording differences. Ugh.) I finally finished that up this morning but my eyes are a little bleary now and I know more about this next new airplane than I really wanted to.

I did some fun website stuff last night for my RecMinUsa site… my pastor (who runs RecMinUsa) wants to be able to update the “upcoming events” page without having to look at HTML. So, I created a formatted text file that he can update, and then a perl script to post-process the text file and merge it with an HTML template to create the page. It seems to work OK… hopefully I kept it simple enough. 🙂

I read some more of Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places last night. I’m to the point in the book where he’s talking about how Christ “plays” in community. I’m still organizing my thoughts on the topic, but it’s good stuff. I’ll have to devote a post to it when I get the time to think.

Well that’s the 8:45 news from Iowa… kind of boring, huh? Sorry. Come back again, it’ll be more interesting next time. I promise.

sticking to our guns

Ned Rice has a great column today on NRO where he makes a strong argument that the folks whining about the lack of liberalism in the new pope should suck it up, think about what they’re saying, take their beliefs (and the church’s beliefs) seriously, and then pack it up and leave if they’re really that unhappy. The column deals specifically with the Roman Catholic church, but I think the ideas are applicable to any person complaining about their church’s beliefs.

The whole column is worth reading, but I’ll copy a few of the choice lines here.

…a truly liberal Holy Father might have moved the Church towards the proverbial, doctrinal hat trick: allowing actively gay men to be Catholics, then ordaining them as priests, and then allowing them to marry their male partners. There’s a name for churches that condone that sort of thing, and that name is “Episcopalian.”

…if you believe that your church was literally founded by the Son of God, based on principles he personally handed down to His followers (as Catholics do), why would you make your church’s doctrine conveniently open to revision by its flock? It’s like deliberately designing a bucket with holes in it, then wondering why it won’t hold any water.

So if you think this or any other pope is just plain wrong on celibacy or homosexuality or anything else big, and this upsets you so much it interferes with your spiritual life, you’d be well advised to find yourself another church. Otherwise you’re like the orthodox Jew who, in light of recent developments, has taken it upon himself to decide that it’s all right for him to eat pork. You can be an orthodox Jew, and you can eat pork. You’re free to do either one. But folks, you just can’t do both. There are names for Catholics who don’t accept that they can’t do certain things and still receive the sacraments, and one of those names is Senator John Kerry.

And last but not least…

Warning of the “tyranny of relativism” that’s become so pervasive, Cardinal Ratzinger argued that it’s better to be guided by time-honored principles of morality than to be endlessly buffeted about by the myriad whims of conventional wisdom in the name of “freedom.” With the clear implication being, if you don’t like these principles the rest of us here have agreed to live by, maybe this isn’t the Church for you. Or as my Dad used to say during dinner, if you don’t like what we’re serving here, try next door.

Good stuff.

slowly getting more out of touch…

I have this “movies I’ve watched recently” link section on the side of the blog. I intended to list movies that I saw in the theater or on DVD. If you’re a regular reader, you will have noted that it hasn’t changed in quite some time.

I noted a progression yesterday while talking with Becky. We were thinking of renting Meet The Fockers, but decided to just watch something recorded on the Tivo instead. The progression goes something like this:

  • Back before we had Laura we’d go watch movies in the theater.
  • Once Laura was born, we’d wait until they came out on DVD.
  • Now that we got our Tivo, we’ll end up waiting until the movie gets shown on TV. 🙂

I will have to break this chain for some movies; obviously when the new Star Wars movie comes out I’ll be watching it in the theater. But as a whole, I feel myself slipping more and more into behind-the-times oblivion, at least as far as pop culture goes. Oh well. It’s not always bad to be out of touch. 🙂

well, no projects this weekend…

So the weather intervened this weekend and I didn’t do any outside projects… apparently a high of 50 with the wind 25 mph from the north is not condusive for working outside. 🙂 I did get the lawn mowed, though. I live in a neighborhood that’s mostly old retired folks, at least one of whom seems to have his personal ambition to make everybody else’s lawns look terrible. This guy mows his lawn every 2 or 3 days, so it’s always immaculate. I try to get mine mowed every week or so, but it usually still ends up looking shaggy.

So instead of outside projects I got a bunch of inside stuff done this weekend, which was OK with me. My list of little miscellaneous projects is always long, so this weekend shortened it up some. Receipts are done. Meeting minutes are typed up. The downstairs is cleaned up and swept. All in all, a profitable weekend. Then I taught Sunday School on Sunday and then in the afternoon bought a used CD that I’m enjoying this morning: Eric Clapton’s Unplugged. I know, it’s a 13-year-old album, but I’m just finally getting around to it.

Such is my random life from this weekend. Hope you enjoyed it. 🙂


Springtime has finally arrived in Iowa, and that means that the weekends become project time. That also means that it’s time for my annual realization of how lazy I am. I like projects to an extent – specifically, I like the ones that are small, and have great observable effect when they’re done. But now that it’s spring time Becky has a list of outdoor projects that need done.

Now I’m not disagreeing that they need done; they do need done, and they will improve the way our home/yard/garden looks when we get done. I just have trouble getting motivated. I like my winter Saturdays when I can get up late, read a book, watch TV, and be lazy. I will remember that I like summer Saturdays, too; but they’re more characterized by work, sweat, and tiredness at the end of the day. Which is OK; I just have to remind myself that I do enjoy it – my laziness wants to tell me that I won’t enjoy it.

So to put aside the navel gazing and introspection, this weekend we’ll be doing some planters in the back yard. We’re buying the landscape timbers today, and tomorrow we’ll be cutting and assembling them. Maybe I’ll even take a picture or two for illiustration once we get done. Thinking about it now, it probably won’t even take that long – Becky’s got it all planned out how she wants it, so it should just be cut and assemble. At least, I can hope that it stays easy. Ahhh… the smell of sawdust. Now I guess that is something to look forward to.

Our Lady of Perpetual Obsolescence

A friend e-mailed me this link today: Our Lady of Perpetual Obsolescence Vinyl Rescue Mission and Orphanage – Severely Religious Wing. (Note to the wise: some of the other pages on the site are R-rated and worth avoiding.) There are some pretty funny album covers from old Religious records – worth laughing at for a minute or two when you have the time.

softball….. finally!

We had our first softball practice of the season last night. It was a beautiful night to be out, and fun to put the glove back on and play some catch. That being said, I was terrible! I couldn’t hit the ball to save my life. Now, I’ve never been a good hitter, but this was ridiculous. Becky was smacking the ball around such that I, in comparison, looked like a little weenie. 🙂

Well, that’s my embarrased rant for this morning. It was still a great time. Hopefully I’ll come up with something more substantive to post later on.