Cell phones have apparently convinced people it's their civil right to speak anywhere anytime around anyone as loud as they want. Since I travel a great deal I see this almost daily, or at least every time I enter an airport. It's not just that people talk loudly right next to others. It's that they talk loudly next to others about their business, personal life, and other used-to-be private matters.
I know I run the risk of being labeled an old curmudgeon on this one, but here's my analysis and a few recommendations...if they aren't drowned by cell phone conversations.
I remember reading about, watching, and enjoying some of the greatest athletes in history, all at their peak in the 70s: Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Muhammad Ali—Joe Frazier, Jack Nicklaus, Mark Spitz, Billy Jean King and Chris Evert, Bobby Orr, Arthur Ashe—Borg—Connors, Nadia Comaneci, Secretariat.
I remember bellbottom pants, tie-dye shirts, huge collars and equally huge ties. What can I say? It was the 70s.
I remember our first date, November 10, 1971, “The Carpenters” concert, Dayton, Ohio. I remember my date wore pink; I do not remember what Karen Carpenter wore.
I remember long sideburns, wide sideburns. I had long sideburns when we got married. Dad had wide ones, looked like a holdover from the Civil War.
I remember pet rocks, 8 track tapes, streaking, disco, platform shoes, mopeds, “Dig it?” leisure suits, lava lamps, and Rocky before a Roman Numeral followed the title. And I remember “Yo, Adrian.”
I remember hair, lots of it. “Gimme head with hair—Long beautiful hair—Shining, gleaming—Streaming, flaxen, waxen—Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.” I never wore the way-long variety that came along in the late 60s and 70s, but it was long enough. In our wedding pictures my hair is too long in front and flips up like a baseball cap bill in every picture.
I remember our first calculator. It was 1974, a month after we were married, and it could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do percentages. That’s it. Now you can get one in cereal boxes that could’ve been used on the Apollo space missions.
I remember in grad school IBM punch card machines with its attached keyboard. You’d put in a deck of cards, punch them one hole at a time, stack your computer “job,” submit it through a window to computer techs, and get your job back the next day. You lived in fear you’d open your mailbox and find a slim printout, meaning you’d made a mistake and had to re-punch and rerun and re-wait all over again.
I remember seeing my first PC. It was jet black, large and heavy, looked like 3 boxes stuck together. It came to the Institute for Public Policy Research, University of Cincinnati, where I worked in grad school. We all walked down the hall to stare at it like it was a new baby.
I remember when as young marrieds we bought our first microwave. It was like acquiring a new car and was, shall we say, large, about 50%-75% bigger than most kitchen microwaves I see now.
If you’re interested in China or the interplay of atheism and Christianity this book is a nice starting point. If you’re interested in the attitudes and insights an experienced Christian evangelist, in this case Luis Palau, might bring to a relationship with an atheist you’ll find this book intriguing. If you want to learn how to convey respect and intellectually engage with an atheist this book is a primer.
Luis Palau, an Argentine-American known the world over for preaching Christ and Christianity via huge public “festivals” visited China and specifically Zhao Qizheng in 2005. They conducted a dialogue on a series of religious and philosophic questions.
The book also contains pictures of Chinese sites, art, and artifacts, partly in an effort to make Chinese culture more accessible to American readers.
Palau does a good job of sharing the fundamentals of Christianity. In his comments Qizheng comes through as the highly educated and intelligent man he is.
The book isn’t long enough or intended to be an in-depth analysis of the issues dividing Christians and atheists. But it summarizes an all too rare exchange. Would that more believers and non-believers would talk.
"Don't bring your morality into politics," so the saying goes. But this is at once impossible and ill-advised even if it were. Morality, the sense of what is right and what is wrong, is an inherent part of everything human beings do. Why? Because we are not animals. We are reasoning if not always reasonable beings capable, in fact charged by God, of determining right from wrong.
So how does morality flavor our economic and political stew? Here's my take:
For a century or more our culture has moved away in fits and starts from a general belief that God created the universe and everything in it. We still believe in God, sort of, but if he exists we no longer believe he created us. No, we believe the universe, and human beings, began by Chance.
OK, I don't buy that, but let's take the next step. If Chance, the Fates, or some other source launched our human lives, what ends them? In other words, if we came into this world By Chance, do we simply leave this world By Chance as well? Or another way of asking the question, if Chance--unguided, unintentional, non-rational happenstance--determined our birth, do we die without intentionality as well? Do we die without any Direction, Purpose, Meaning, or Significance?
Are human beings just animals after all, or worse, do our lives and inner-us possess a value about on the level of a plant?
First allow me to salute some friends. The idea for the video column initially came from Publisher David Vanderveen. His vision for what can be done in online Christian media today is the prime directive behind our effort. And Dave is a man of character whose friendship I’ve enjoyed for the past couple of years.
The video column is published by Dave and Faye Vanderveen’s “West Michigan Christian News” for its E-Edition and website and eventually for their Christianenews.com and MissionsInMedia.com websites. Bob and Debra Foster of BoDe Productions produce the videos. Faye, Bob, and Debra have become new friends whose desire to honor the Lord is evident in everything they do.
As I said, we’ve learned a few things. For example, I’ve worked with a teleprompter only once before. So learning to focus on the text and not lose my place, while not also looking like I’ve got tunnel vision, is a developing skill. It gets easier.
Relaxing on camera is a major consideration because it affects the appearance and ease with which a viewer can engage the topic. I’m not an actor and until now haven’t done much on camera—on radio, yes, but not on television or video. With repetition, though, you become comfortable with your surroundings, at ease with the lights, camera, and process, and your body begins to take on its normal habits—meaning you begin to move naturally when you speak rather than looking like a robot. It gets easier.
Props are important. At our first shoot of several columns, I switched out sport coats, shirts, and vests. OK, but we’re going to go with sport coats for a while. And in the inaugural shoot we used a green, well, really green, curtain backdrop. It’s a goner. For the second shoot we switched to a black curtain backdrop, pulled back the camera to reveal more table, lowered it so I didn’t look up so much, and stayed with a white shirt. It gets easier, and we plan, more creative.
Ideas and writing are what motivate me. But for content to make a contribution or an impact it must be shared. Publishing print is one way, posting is a new way, videoing is a newer way. It’s all fun…and it gets easier.