Friday, April 14, 2006

Every 15 Minutes Followup

I was intending to post a followup sooner, but got distracted.

Day 2 of the Every 15 Minutes event was highlighted by a school assembly in which all the "dead" students returned and assembled on the auditorium stage. A local media celebrity MC'd the assembly (aptly, she is the traffic reporter for a local morning TV news program) which consisted of a video of the previous day's events (the students being pronounced "dead", and the simulated car crash on the football field, along with video of the "victims" being worked on in the ER and at the morgue, all set to extremely emotional music), a keynote speech by a passionate MADD advocate who lost her own eldest daughter to a drunk driver, and "last letters" from the parents to the "dead" students, and vice-versa, read openly to the audience.

Needless to say emotions were running very high. I don't think I've ever seen more high school aged kids willing to cry and be emotional about anything.

I was one of the parents that got to read my "last letter" to Camie, which I posted for you previously. Camie had no idea I was picked, and as I got to reunite with her up on stage, I picked her up in a big bear hug and twirled her around a few times before putting her down. It really was kind of like getting my dead daughter back. The simulation be damned, it was still emotional.

After the assembly, the participants were invited to a luncheon where we got to share with other parents and students about the event.

Gidget asked me, what was Camie's reaction to it all?

She was pretty OK with the whole thing. She and I are apart often, since she spends part of her time at her mom's house, so the "out of contact" thing wasn't all that unique. What really surprised her was how many students knew her, and how wide the circle of people was that would be effected by her absence. After it was all over, there were friends and acquaintances from all over the school coming up to her, and hugging her, and telling her they were glad she's back! I got several hugs from the kids, too, since I know several of them, and again, the circle of the affected is wider than either Camie or I thought.

In fact, a case in point: my next door neighbor here in the apartment complex is a good friend. She works in law-enforcement, and knows what a policeman and chaplain going to someone's door usually means, which is usually bad news. Well, long about 3pm on the first day, after the death notification, she knocks on my front door. My older daughter answered, and I could hear my neighbor asking, "Is your dad OK?"

I walked to the door, all smiling, glad to see my neighbor, but the look of concern on her face was unmistakable. She had seen the chaplain and police that morning, and had been worried all day that something was wrong. She'd been waiting to see me walking in the parking lot (since we often talk out there), but couldn't stand the wait and finally came to see if I was OK. The look of relief at the fact it was just a simulation was clear, but the incident really illustrated to me, again, the circle is wider than I thought.

Camie and I have been much closer since the event. We always make sure to say "I love you" to each other, give hugs, and I give her a kiss on the forehead before she leaves.

So, I don't think it was anything earthshaking for Camie, but it was definitely thought provoking and sobering.

And sobering is what this event was all about.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Easter Bunny Boneheads

Well, it's official. I have Sundays off for the rest of my foreseeable career. This past week I won a shift-bid at work which give me Sunday-Monday-Tuesday as my days off during the week. Since I already work dayshift, I can't foresee a move back to any later shift in my future, so I think I'll be set for many years.

I happen to think its quite fortuitous, since my first day back to church as a regular attender will be Easter Sunday.

Which has gotten me to thinking a little bit about Easter, and some of the silliness we contend with each year at this time.

For instance, you've probably heard about the St. Paul, Minn. city council that decided to take down the Easter decorations from the lobby of the city council offices.

Not city sanctioned decorations, but a very small set of decorations brought in by the staff secretary. An Easter bunny, a few pastel Easter eggs in a basket, and a small "Happy Easter" sign by her desk, visible from public view. This secretary has been doing these same type of small decorations at various holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, and Valentine's Day) for at least 10 years. No one has ever objected.

The reason cited: these decorations might offend non-Christian citizens who come to the council office on business.

And my first thought is..... what??

Yes, I feel consternation at the ridiculous PCness of the council for removing such innocuous items from the lobby. I think we are going way to far in our effort to "de-offend" America. The right to "not be offended" does not exist. I think the PC folks should at least be genuine and admit the entire movement isn't about their compassion for other people's feelings, but more about how other people feel about THEM and their efforts to maintain a good standing in the eyes of others by "looking out for them".

The PC movement is the most disingenuous thing to hit America in years. But that's a WHOLE other post, and I digress.....

What struck me is the council's nonsensical contention that the Easter bunny and pastel eggs would somehow offend non-Christians? Since when are the Easter bunny and eggs CHRISTIAN symbols?

I don't know about you, but the last time I read my Bible, I don't believe the Easter bunny died on the cross, or laid any eggs (much less bright pink and purple ones) at the resurrection. The disciples might have EATEN a bunny at a meal sometime or other (I'm sure the local hunters bagged a bunny on occasion), and probably benefited from the nourishment, but I don't think they deified, worshiped, or in any other way glorified the bunny.

That was reserved for The Guy that died for the sins of the world and was resurrected proving His victory over sin and death, securing for all mankind the gift of eternal life and a relationship with The Creator, if we'd just believe and repent our sins

Wait, let me re-read that last paragraph. Hmmm hmmm.... yes.... hmmmm.. Ok, nothing about an Easter Bunny.

In fact, I'm pretty sure The Bunny isn't mentioned in the Bible at all. Don't quote me on that, though... do your own research.

The Christian message is pretty clear. I don't understand how people bright enough to be elected to city council seats, and moreover the Human Rights Director for the City of St. Paul, Minnesota (who wrote the opinion that the decorations should be taken down), could mistake pastel eggs and a bunny for Jesus Christ, and the Almighty God, Creator Of All That Is.

I don't think there's even a passing similarity. When Moses tried to view God, he nearly went mad at trying to understand the scope and glory of God. But then, I go mad trying to figure out how The Bunny lays eggs.

And all this PCedness to try not to offend non-Christians, comes from the city council in charge of a city named for, arguably, the greatest missionary Christianity has ever know: St. Paul.

Boggles my mind, and the irony is just so deliciously rich.

Let's ponder the real reason for this Easter, folks.

Some 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus died horribly, tragically, but willingly, crucified on a cross, at the hands of Roman guards, a murder instigated and encouraged by the Jewish religious leaders of the day. Three days later Jesus, by the power of the Almighty God, was raised from death, resurrected to life, all for the promise that you and I could do the same, and be reconnected to The Almighty Creator by the Holy Spirit. We, each and every one of us, can live a new life, right here, right now, thanks to that sacrifice over 2000 years ago, and when we physically die, that resurrection promises us the same eternal life that The Almighty provided to Jesus.

Doesn't sound much like eggs and bunnies to me.