January 28, 2009

The Funniest Letter of Complaint Ever

A passenger on Virgin airlines was not very happy with his meal, so he wrote what has to be the funniest complaint letter ever. Go here for the full text. Here's a sampling of what's in the letter:

"I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

"Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this: [see image 3]."

Maybe if we all took that much time with letters of complaint, companies would make a few changes. Apparently Richard Bronson personally called the passenger to apologize. I think I might write a letter of complaint to Anderson Cooper...

January 27, 2009

And They Will Know Us By Our Suffering

I was in Richmond this weekend visiting some friends from college who moved there to start an inner-city ministry. Part of their ministry is actually living in the inner city and becoming involved in the lives of those they meet. To do this, they go to a community church that was started by two other churches in the area. I don’t know all the details of the church or its people, but as I walked into the service on Sunday afternoon, I saw a picture of what the Church should look like: Not just one color and not just one economic demographic and not just one age.

The message was given by a camp director and something he said really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but he said “The world will not change when they see Christians prosper. The world will change when they see Christians rejoicing through suffering.”

Most Christians agree that the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ is a bunch of malarkey. But how often do we buy into our own version of the prosperity Gospel? We feel entitled to the American dream of a nice home, two kids and a steady job. It’s our right to be able to eat every meal and to be healthy and live until we're 99. And when any of those things are tested, we begin to wonder “Why me?” We’ve bought into the American mantra that living the easy life is the right of every person, rather than remembering that we were told we would suffer—it comes with the territory of being in this world but not of this world. Paul even tells us to suffer for the Gospel (Romans 8:17 and 2 Timothy 1:8) and in 1 Corinthians we are told to bless and endure suffering (4:12-13) even when we are hungry and clothed in rags.

Does this mean we can’t be sad or upset when we suffer? Of course not! Read the Psalms and you’ll find it’s full of the cries of people who are suffering. The problem lies in expecting to never suffer and then being upset and affronted when we do.

As I chewed on what the speaker said, I was reminded of the incident a few years ago when a man entered an Amish school in Pennsylvania and murdered several children and then shot himself. A few girls who didn’t die suffered injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives. Most people would take this chance to become angry and the world would say they are justified. Instead, that Amish community used the funds that people donated to help the family of the man who did this horrible thing. They offered forgiveness and reached out to others, and that’s what the country remembered.

Shouldn’t that also be the testimony of Christians? Even though we suffer, we rejoice. Even when we live in a world going through an economic crisis, we praise God for His blessings. And then, the world will know us by our joy in Christ and our joy in suffering.

January 21, 2009

Polaroids are Saved! (For real this time!)

I stumbled upon this article on another blog. Some excerpts:

"If all goes to plan, the Polaroid factory in Enschede, Amsterdam, will soon be making film again thanks to its new owner, an eccentric Austrian artist and businessman named Florian Kaps."

"'The project is more than a business plan; it's a fight against the idea that everything has to die when it doesn't create turnover,' said Mr Kaps."

I love it! I love that Kaps realizes not everything is about money--especially art. Just because it's not the newest technology doesn't mean it's irrelevant or useless. Just look at the resurgence of vinyl records.

January 20, 2009

Jon Favreau: Making Twenty-somethings Everywhere Look Like Slackers

I love words. I love how you can write a sentence, then re-write it over and over again, until you've found the perfect combination of words to convey your meaning most accurately. I'll probably come back to the previous sentence later and re-write it before I publish this. I love doing that. But most people seem to have given up on speaking with eloquence and choose instead to speak quickly. They look for the fastest way to get their point across, even when there's a better way--a more vivid way.

My love of the written word extends to an appreciation for a good speech. A speech that not only explains a point, but does so in manner that goes above and beyond the normal spoken word. I always thought that political speeches had to be dry and delivered as though the speaker was reading a recipe. I thought speeches like those of President Bartlet were only found in the writing of Aaron Sorkin. But as I listened to President Barack Obama's inauguration speech, I was reminded of my love of words and reminded that inspirational political speeches are not just a Hollywood creation or a thing of the past. Whether you're a fan of Obama or not, you have to admit he has a way with words. His "soaring oratory" could inspire Dr. House to volunteer at an orphanage. I can't wait to hear his speeches during the next four (possibly eight) years.* I realize President Obama is not the first president to deliver a speech with panache, but he's the first that my generation remembers with clarity.

But here's where I begin to feel like a slacker, even though I make an effort to choose my words well. The speechwriter (and Obama's head speechwriter throughout the campaign and on to the White House) is Jon Favreau. And Favreau is 27 years old. According to this article in The Guardian, Favreau began his career as a speechwriter for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign after graduating from College of the Holy Cross as valedvictorian.

I have two years to become a speechwriter or at least a published author. If I can't be a drool-worthy speechwriter, at least I can aim to be a twentysomething author of outstanding novels. I should probably start right now.

*This is not a snarky way of making fun of President Bush's lack of remarkable oratory skills. I'm just looking forward to seeing Obama put his above-average public speaking skills to use.

January 8, 2009

Print it Like a Polaroid Picture

Good news for all the Polaroid picture lovers out there: The Polaroid camera is back, in digital.

"It produces 2-by-3 inch photos by selectively heating spots on specially treated paper. It has nothing to do with the old chemical Polaroid process, but the prints convey some of the same Pop Art charm: They're grainy and the colors are slightly off, with faces tending toward a deathly blue-green."

When Polaroid announced they are stopping production of the Polaroid instant film cameras, people began hoarding they're film and buying it up whenever and wherever they could. And the hipsters rejoiced! (at the announcement of the new camera).

January 7, 2009

Question to Ponder During the New Year

A few weeks ago I did an email interview with a missionary in Uganda. She's been there for just under a year and living with three other missionaries. Some of her insights, along with the general atmosphere of the world and culture today, brought to mind a series of questions I've been pondering. Let's just dive right in:

If you stripped away all your hobbies, interests, favorites (including television shows, books, movies, flavor of coffee, etc), tastes (in clothing, decorating, music, type of vehicle...)--what would be left? How would you define yourself and how would others define you?

How would people describe me if they couldn't include that I'm a fan of the Green Bay Packers, I drink lots of Diet Dr. Pepper and I enjoy reading and writing? What if all the opinions and preferences from the last 25 years were stripped away and I was simply left with who God made me?

Would I be happy with what was left? Perhaps I would be left with nothing, because who I am is based on the very things I've stripped away. Or perhaps I'd find the real me--the one created by God for His glory and I've let the world and its distractions taint the real me.

In the interview with the missionary, she said something that really struck a chord with me. Before leaving for Uganda, she had in mind what she would be doing in Uganda, but when she got there she discovered that it wasn't about what she "brought to the table." She went to Uganda expecting to reach others through art and teaching art. When she got there, she discovered that they didn't need or have time for art. We're raised to believe we all must bring something to the table--to have something to contribute to make the world better. Or just something to help make our mark on the world.

But is that what we really need? Don't we just end up defining ourselves by our hobbies and preferences, rather than as a child of God? A creation of God, made in His image? And when all is said and done, isn't that what really matters?