Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Palmolive: Soothes burns while you fry bacon...

Colgate-Palmolive Company used Madge the Manicurist in their commercials to sell dishwashing liquid in the early 90s. In the ads, Madge claimed that the soap softens hands while you do dishes.

Well, the other day I was frying bacon when grease popped up off the pan and all but sautéed my neck.  Teddy (a.k.a My MacGyver) suggested that I rubbed neon green Palmolive on the burned area. I was skeptical at first, but after a few swipes of my soapy fingers, instantly my irritation was soothed.

Amazed at how quickly the throbbing subsided, I grabbed my laptop to do a little research. As it turns out, our typical dish soap contains additives such as humectants which are useful in alleviating the pain caused by minor burns. Essentially, humectants absorb the moisture that usually builds-up under the skin, and which is responsible for the pulsating sensation that gives you the sense that your flesh is burning from the inside out. Since the humectants soak-up the pus, unsightly blisters are avoided.

Normally, I'm a natural dissenter from trends in home remedies, but the makers of Palmolive could certainly expand their market shares of dishwashing detergent under this new slogan:
      Palmolive: Soothes burns while you fry bacon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Written History from Unwritten Records

If there is one thing that my parents are good for at family gatherings, it's those back when I was a kid.... refrains.  This year was no different, and back history bail-out packages for the "kids of today" were in short supply.

Back when I was a kid, these choruses bored me to smithereenes, with their cumbersome superlatives emphasizing hard-knocks living.  However, now that I'm 30-ish, and donning a family of my own, I'm beginning to understand the mores of the older generation and their oral traditions, which are rooted in West African history. Essentially, it is the duty of the younger generation to pass along these legacies, and --as a rule --to deliver them with the same sing-song artistry.

In lieu of singing, I would like to transcribe one such story that my dad shares every year.  Through exaggeration, he illustrates just how far the dollar stretched in the 50s:
      When I was a kid, my daddy used to give me a dollar and say, 'I want you to go to the store and pick up a pack a cigarettes for me, and a pack for your mother.  Then, I want you to get a gallon of gas for the mower so you can make some money this week.  Oh.., and bring me back my change.'
My dad's memories are for me a melody that sticks in my head.

This is in part due to the fact that my 4-year old and 16 month old now hang on the cadence of their grandfather's 
hymns. One day, his stories will become theirs.

In this way his music is talking drum for my family. Having no written record of my family history, I'm inclined to listen more intently, perhaps so that I can pass the tradition on to my children.  

After all, it is through the act of passing on these songs, stories, and sayings that life's priceless heirlooms are preserved. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

About that "God is On Your Side" Theory

Tonight, Teddy read to Sadia from one of her usual bedtime stories. This is a nightly routine, and Sadia is pretty consistent about her book request. In fact, they read from the same book each night, so Sadia has the story memorized.

Because the story line is fixed in her mind, Sadia can "read" the book on her own. Tonight was no different. She picked up her book, and began narrating. However after finishing just two pages of the text, she grew tired of reading, and remarked:
    "Daddy, you read this part, the rest is too difficult."
Teddy, expecting to reassure Sadia's confidence and fully realize the learning potential in that twinkling of a second, gently squeezed her chin, looked her square in the eyes, and said:
    "Sadia, you can do anything. Nothing is too hard for you, because you are smart! And God is on your side."
Sadia, making a tangible connection rather than the meaningful one that Teddy intended, sensed the need for some cerebral thinking.  She argued:
    "But Daddy, God is not on my side because I can't see Him..,"
She extended her left arm to the side, stretched it towards the wall, cuffed her tiny fingers into a bolstered fist, and hammered her knuckles on the wall as if to present State's Exibit "B" in her case against this God is On Your Side Theory.
Then she claimed with pointed clarity:
    "AND, because the wall is on my side."
What a cute exchange, but Sadia's experience illustrates the essence of her pragmatism. She sees, hears, and understands largely in concrete terms (no pun intended). Since being on a "side" is also a matter of proximity, her comment made perfect sense.

It is easy to take for granted her naive understanding of the world. Still, her comment offered a fresh perspective that kept me giggling well into the night.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The bible in 63 Days? (More like 82 days)

So, I've exceeded the time for completing a personal challenge of reading through the bible in 63-days. Though I fell short of my goal, I am extremely excited to be finished.

The most outstanding insight gained from this undertaken seems counter-intuitive. It's a given that the bible holds the answers to many of life's questions. However, I ended my journey with more questions than I began with, especially difficult questions concerning my life.

As Christmas approaches, I am praying for the courage and faith to come to terms with those hard questions.

Thanks to all of my blog readers for your words of encouragement throughout my journey. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recycle? Reduce? Reuse?

What will be the final resting place for all of those Christmas cards you receive this holiday season?

Here are a few Green suggestions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And, the Best Daddy Award goes to...

This brief exchange ensued between Teddy and Sadia, while he fished for what seemed a sure compliment. After all, he did just serve Sadia a piece of cake following dinner.

Teddy: Aren't I the best daddy you ever had?

Sadia: No (matter-of-factly).

Teddy: (taken aback)  No? Well, who is?

Sadia: (without missing a beat shoveling cake into her mouth) My mom.

Monday, December 15, 2008


"Service is the rent we pay for being. 
It is the very purpose of life, 
and not something you do in your spare time." 
--Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Activist

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Am The Face of Persecution

Not that I have been persecuted for my faith, but rather I persecuted you because I lacked faith.

There is freedom in Christ.

I have hindered you from developing in your own personal relationship with Him, because I--much like the Pharisees-- have held you to an unattainable standard, one in which I, myself, have not and cannot attain. There is no good in me, save the promise, which Christ has given freely to all who believe in Him.

I am at fault. I have fallen short. My shortcomings are realized. I confess it and trust that God is working it out for His good.

I used to believe adamantly that each of is faced with the freedom of choice: God, or the world. Good or evil. Now, I understand that I don't freely choose God. In fact, I don't freely choose anything at all. God alone elects, as we are by nature scandalously incapacitated in the realm of free will.

First, Paul explains in the first chapter of Colossians, verses 15 through 20 that God has reconciled everyone and everything to Himself. He chose us because He is, Supreme.

What follows in verses 21 through 23 demonstrates my inadequacy all the more:
        This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

        But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.
The Good News is that righteousness has been imputed to me. Any good that I have done is simply an extension of a Supernatural Line of Credit (if you will). The power of the Holy Spirit working through me.

I ruminated over this and other insights gained from two completely different sources this week. At first glance, the two laws seemed to be at odds with one another. However, after careful reflection, the principle of each highlight some fundamental truths.

I stumbled across the first article in Science News entitled The Decider. In it, scientists assert the nihility of free will, affirming that it is an "illusion", and that the complexity of decision making is veiled. The prospect of rewards and the anticipation of reprisals, send neurological signals to the brain triggering our decision making. Our brain, which essentially is subject to the same programming that enslaves a computer, makes choices based on receptivity and biochemistry. In other words, our will is less characterized by the notion of freedom, and more distinctively reduced to a conditional expression, or an if-then construct.

Initially, I rejected this position, in part because much of the arrogance of religious thinking is based on the idea of free will and one's ability to choose between good and evil. However, truthfully speaking, all decisions that I make -- by virtue of human nature-- are at the core selfish, and therefore evil.

As a Christian, my faith was rooted in the misconception that humans have the freedom to choose right from wrong; to bring forth good or evil. However, after careful consideration, I have come to realize the truth. Free will is indeed an illusion. I do not posses the faculty of volition. I am confined by my brain which is constantly networking with my body proliferating evil. The complexity of this "decision making" can best be summed up in the seventh chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans.

In verses 21-24, Paul writes:
        I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Here, Paul illustrates the end to which we are bound to the mechanism of choice-- to the extent of reprobation-- whereby even if I will to do good, my actions indelibly fall short. I might erroneously point to my good deeds and argue, "I have proof that truly I can choose to do good." But the truth is that the good that emerges from my actions, emerges not as a result of my choosing to do what is right, but rather it is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in and through me.

Jesus clarifies this reality in his response to the "Rich Young Man", who refers to Christ as the Good Teacher in Mark 10: 18: "And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.'"

I once vehemently believed that the persecution of the church referred to throughout the New Testament, resulted when the world rejected Christians who choose to separate themselves from the sin of the world. However, clearly, the face of persecution is found in those who repudiate the freedom that is in Christ, crush people with unbearable religious demands, and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

We're thinking about taking this show on the road!
Potential business investors may want to think about getting in on the ground floor?

Friday, December 05, 2008

la Recesión


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm High!

Reading the bible is a powerful drug.

It's a known fact that there are many physiological and mental benefits to exercise. But what of the merits of bible reading?

Okay. So, I've reached a crucial mile marker in my trek through the bible. However, with only thirty days and forty three books to the finish line, I am seriously starting to have some doubts about whether I'll be able to deliver. This intensely lengthy reading has stretched me to my physical and spiritual limits.

Despite the challenges, one thing is certain: The pace has emboldened me. I have attained the reader's equivalent of what marathon junkies often refer to as the runner's high.

I've read through the bible before, but I've never tread so vigorously. The exhilaration drives me. But what triggers the high?

Maybe it's the daily 2 to 3 hour reading schedule, which affords untapped opportunities for making connections and cross references like never before. For example, just yesterday, I read Isaiah's prophecy of God's impending judgement on Israel after repeated failures to keep the perfect law of God. I can recall with clarity their fall from grace, under who's leadership, and by who's hands, because I had read about it just days before in the Chronicles. Or, perhaps it is the promise of accomplishing what is, for me at least, the impossible--the bible in 60 days (yikes, what was I thinking).

I feel as though I am working at my maximum potential, and the sky's the limit. Still maybe there is a more practical explanation for what I am experiencing. Possibly there is something to the whole mind body connection, because my endorphins are flying all over the place, and I'm feeling loopy.

It could be that this is all in my head, but this bible reading euphoria can best be summed up by a famous lick from Grateful Dead's "Truckin'": What a long strange trip it's been.


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