Sunday, February 22, 2015

Upward Devotional: "Sharing the Fun"

As I noted before, during the first two months of the year, part of my Saturdays are spent in gymnasiums … one in my church, and another in the public high school across the street. The Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season is well underway here, in Midland, Texas. Volunteers are helping the program in a lot of different ways … as coaches, referees, time/scorekeeprs, and delivering devotionals to the fans during halftime breaks … I’m one of the volunteers doing the devotionals, and here was my presentation for this past Saturday, inspired by what I observed of the youngsters on the court …

Hello, everyone, and thank you for being here today for the kiddos ...

One of the reasons I volunteer for Upward Basketball is to enjoy a chance to watch kids at play ... there is something spontaneously joyful about children at play ... and that joy can be contagious.

A few weeks back, a timeout was called during one of the games, and a coach signaled to his team to circle around ... and most of them did ... except for one little boy, off by himself, just outside the circle, going like this ... (at this point I'm spinning around in a tight loop while waving my arms)

As the father of two young men, I know there will come a time when sports, and everything else in a youngster’s life will become so serious, a point where a child’s every move will determine whether or not they will have a future as a professional athlete, or a scientist, or a successful business owner.

And of course you are there to support or encourage your kiddos in whatever path they take into their future ... but that might include their choice to abandon that path if all they joy has been sucked-out of it, and pursue another path.

There may be some future NBA or WNBA stars out there ... or there may not. I don’t know, and I don’t care because, for now, at this stage, there is still the fun, the joy.

Jesus told us – more than once, that we can learn something from children.

In the Book of Mark, we read about a time when people brought their children to Jesus ... “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them ... But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

I guess the disciples needed reminders sometimes, because in the Book of Matthew we read about them quizzing Jesus ... “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Now, I'm not saying 'all fun at all times' ... we still need to make sure they get a good bedtime, eat a good meal, mind their manners and other 'un-fun' things. But when we can, let them have their fun, and let's share that fun, that joy with them.

Thank you, everyone. Enjoy the game!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Added to my bookshelf ... "Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies

There's no denying that Jessica Robinson has an obsession with zombies, and that said obsession is shared by people of many ages in many parts of the world ... myself included.

Proof of her obsession can be found in the time and effort that obviously went into research for, and writing of her book, "Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies." My reading of the book, however, left my own obsession unsated ... which is not necessarily the fault of the book ... obsessions, after all, can be very, VERY personal matters.

Robinson traces the start of her obsession with viewing George Romero's 1968 classic "Night of the Living Dead," filmed just a few hours' drive west of the movie theater in Pennsylvania where my own obsession was launched by watching the same film. Yet, in spite of the importance she places upon such films - she begins the first chapter of her book with the line, "Zombie films serve as a great lens to examine concerns society has about modern science." - most of the ensuing examination relies upon a surprisingly limited repertoire of films, and a television series.

And that's a shame, because much of what she cites is used to address another obsession of hers ... "our fears of science and what could happen if science gets out of hand." And while that is a good discussion in and of itself, little or no attention is paid to films that address the fun of zombies ... yes, the FUN.

True, Robinson does refer briefly to films such as "Zombieland" and "Warm Bodies" that manage to find the humor of life in a zombie apocalypse ... but those references are selective and address our fear of science, and authority, and so on. I can't help but wonder why a host of funny/campy/silly films - from "Juan of the Dead" to "Fido," from "Redneck Zombies" to "Poultrygeist," from "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" to (my all-time favorite) "Shaun of the Dead" - were left out of the mix.

What if zombie films not only stoke the fires of our fear of science, and our resentment of authority ... what if they also tickle our funny bone? I really, really, REALLY wish Robinson could have spent more time on the fun of zombies, and less time on long, detailed and (for me) numbing descriptions of the science and technology of zombie/virus transmission.

Perhaps Robinson will again tackle zombies in a book, and MAYBE have a little FUN ... I will keep an eye out for it, and I most certainly WILL read it.

ADDED NOTE: Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies was added to my virtual bookshelf as a free Early Reviewers Copy from