My son Jackson has style. That may seem a strange thing to say about a five year old, but it is true. Lots of people have enough money to buy things that look good. Give me enough moolah and I can find a shirt and pants that match. Some people look good in whatever they wear because they are pretty or handsome. Style is something else.
Every time Jackson emerges from his room he seems to be wearing a different outfit. And not one most people would put together. Jackson is a fan of wearing socks that are so long they come up to his thighs. Like something out of an Errol Flynn epic. He matches hats to shoes and wears belts with shorts. Lately, he is growing out his hair. He is five! I never made a suggestion about my hair until eighth grade, when I asked the lady giving me a cut if she could make it look like Don Johnson. (This was the height of Miami Vice. Eventually I owned an outfit that consisted of boat shoes with no socks, teal pants tight-rolled at the bottom, a pink shirt, teal tie slung low, and a faux white linen jacket. My friend Jamal who lived down the street wore a gray suit and pulled off Tubbs to my Crockett. It is the only time besides my wedding and my mothers forced outfits for pictures that I actually coordinated what I wore with another person. For a few months I was stylish, but it was all stolen from a show, so I didn't have style.)
Jackson is especially fond of making up outfits for the occasion. If I have a softball game, he dresses like a baseball player, cleats and all. I once went to church with a grown man who did this. Every week he had a completely different look. He wore a karate outfit one week. On memorial day he wore camouflage from head to toe. He is perhaps the only person over fifteen and not in the armed forces that I have seen successfully pull off wearing a beret. He had style.
My question is "Where did this come from?" It must be genetic, because we certainly haven't taught Jackson this. I am the king of not caring how I look. Sure sometimes I look nice, but it is all an act. Jeans and a tee shirt. That's all I need or want. And while his mother is beautiful, she doesn't really have a style. No, this is something that is purely his. I don't get it or understand it. I worry a little that this will lead to him eventually putting bolts in his earlobes or tattooing the quadratic formula on his forehead. But mostly I like it. People with style make the world better by refusing to be the same. I may not understand wearing a trench coat in June, but the fact that the kid walking down my street earlier today thought it was a good look is enough for me.
So I say, make room for those with style. Don't squash them or try to make them conform. Besides, if we attempt to reel them in, where will all the actors and college professors come from.
(Picture of me in early high school. Proof that I don't have style)
Saw a report the other day about "beach books." Apparently beach books are books you take with you to read at the beach. This must be a northern thing. The people they showed were at the beach, but pretty covered up. They looked almost cold. But there they sat with the wind whipping around them trying to read a novel.
I am not a big beach person, but the beaches I have been to are hot. You spend your time doing things like getting in the ocean. Because it's hot. Never seemed like much of a time to read a book to me. All that grit. Plus, it's hot.
Anyway, I recently read these three books. If you are looking for some summer reading (beach or no), here are my thoughts.
Meltdown-Thomas E. Woods Jr. This was a simple and straight-forward look at the causes of the boom-bust cycle in our national economy. If you do not give much thought as to how economies work, you will be blown away by this book. Woods uses the Austrian economic theory (of which I am a big believer) to illuminate our current "recession." The point of the book is that the problem isn't the bust, it is the ways the government interferes with the economy to artificially maintain the boom. Of course since the boom is artificial, there must be an inevitable bust. If you are worried you won't understand the book let me assure you; the book is written in a very accessible manner. I recommend this book highly. (Make sure you get the book by Woods as there are several current books with this title.)
The Blue Parakeet-Scot McKnight. This book attempts to tackle the question of how do we read the Bible. It asks a lot of really good questions, questions we should be asking. Like why do I selectively apply rules in the Bible? Why are some things for then, and some things for all time? His goal is to get us to see that there is method to our madness (and sometimes madness to our method) of looking for answers in the Bible. Yes we all have a method. Anyone who says "I just read the Bible and do what it says" is either naive or lying. In spite of this good premise I found the book lacking. It never went as deep as I wanted. Some of that may be that a lot of this I studied in grad school. But even so, I wished for more. This is a good book, and if you are wanting to gain some new found awareness about how we study the Bible and what we bring to the table when we do, you should read this book. If you are looking for more than that, keep looking.
Twilight-Stephenie Meyer. Yes, I read Twilight. But I have not been assimilated. I do, however, get the appeal. This book (or set of books) should sell like hotcakes with teenagers, especially teenage girls. Not because it is a romance (although it is) but because of how the romance is portrayed. (Warning spoiler alert). The main character, Bella, perceives herself to be an average, if clumsy, teenager. She spends her time reading and taking care of her mother who is somewhat immature. However, her world changes when the most handsome boy in the history of the world falls for her. Doesn't matter that he is a vampire who is at first attracted to her because of her floral smell which makes him want to consume her. So now this remarkable love affair whisks her into the heights of teenage angst and romance. I won't give away any more, but let me just say I tired of the gushing (oh I will never get used to looking at him, my heart skipped a beat), and the uneven writing. However, the moral dilemmas presented are pretty good, and the story is interesting enough to pull you along. If you are looking for great writing, this is not it. But if you need to get your teenager to actually read something this summer, give it a whirl.
I love a good worship service. Now stop right there. You might have just said, “Me too.” But the “good worship service” we each thought of is probably drastically different. You know this dilemma. All this talk about worship. Worship is important. Worship should be improved. But no one can seem to agree on what a “good worship service” should be like. So we either fight, or we are unhappy or we get our way or we leave. We congregate with those who seem to have a similar notion of “good worship.”
This all seems to miss the point. And we all feel it. So what can we do? I’m not sure. But here are my ideas for what makes a “good worship service.”
1. Since we are worshipping God, maybe He should decide what makes a good worship service. After all, shouldn't a birthday bash be judged by the birthday boy?
2. Take a look around during the service. What does the crowd look like? I don’t mean numbers, but you can make some judgements about a worship service based on the crowd. Do they all look alike? Are they all the same color? Wearing the same style of clothes? If they are, this may not be that great of a worship service. Is there a homeless man sitting next to the president of the local bank? Is there an unwed teenage mom singing alongside an elder’s wife? Are there people of different races, colors and classes and capabilities worshipping together? If the answer to these questions is yes, it’s probably a great worship service.
3. Check out the guy on the corner. You know the one you pass every week as your head from church to your favorite restaurant. Are people from your worship service stopping to talk to him? Offering assistance? Inviting him to lunch? Do I even have to say what kind of answers a “good worship service” should produce?
We have spent years focusing on doing worship correctly. This meant certain acts (the five acts of worship) performed by certain people (baptized males) in certain ways (without instruments, every Sunday). Now a renewal movement is sweeping through our churches focused on…doing worship correctly. Only now correctly means certain acts (raising hands, singing with eyes closed) performed by certain people (praise teams) in certain ways (with projectors, great emotion). The common element is a belief that doing things correctly makes us spiritual and righteous. Where did we get that idea? When will we become more concerned with doing good than being right?