Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

35mm Slide Trays In A 2-Megapixel .JPG World

Since I retired the first of this month, I've been busily scanning 35mm 2X2 slides into my computer. I had a couple thousand of them that I'd taken, dating back to the late 1950's, and I also inherited a roughly equal number from my Dad some years ago.

Now, unless you are older'n dirt like I am, you are probably not familiar with 35mm slides. They're positive-film snapshots in little cardboard frames, that you show with a slide projector (or view with a little backlit handheld viewer). The projector, of course, calls for setting up a 4' square screen along with the projector, darkening the room, and using a bunch of juice powering the megawatt room heater masquerading as the bulb in the projector. Watching slides was roughly equivalent to a night out. But usually without the fun stuff. Or popcorn.

The picture above is of an Argus slide tray, designed to hold the slides so the Argus projector can run them through and slide them in front of the lamp so it can throw the beam up on the screen. In the Argus system, the slides were manually inserted in those little aluminum frames for protection and to ease the machine ramming them home, and dragging them back out.

Now the slide scanner calls for me to take out the slide, from the little frame it's in, and insert each one into the scanner. Individually. Oh, there are add-on contraptions to do that automatically, but they're rather pricey so I figured, being retired and all, I'd just do that sitting here. And it's been fun, anyway, as I get a chance to look at each slide as I do the work.

I had briefly discussed keeping the slide trays, but they are a lot of work to use and I don't have a working slide projector. What with technology and all, even this po' boy can scan the pictures in, sort them by date order or activity, call up any one for viewing, and see them any time I want. Daylight or dark, too.

It would be really stupid to insist on keeping the slide projector, slides, screen, and all that, when the objective is to look at the pictures, wouldn't it? Why perpetuate a system in the name of sentimentality or tradition, when simple, affordable alternatives exist?

I'm up to 3,518 pictures scanned in, so far, and I have 288 to go. Not to mention a printed picture collection downstairs, which I will start scanning in when I get done with the slides. I think there are thousands of them, too.

Which brings me to my point. Just as my objective is to be able to look at, and preserve, pictures in the best and most usable way, shouldn't our goal at the SBC be, to get the gospel out, to make disciples of all nations, in the best and most efficient, effective way? And to conduct the business necessary to support that, in the best way possible?

I wonder if we're doing that...

OK. That's all. I have to finish my slides and pictures so I can get out my Christmas present ... a computer-interfaced record turntable complete with diamond stylus and USB cable ... so I can get to work making .mpg files out of all my LP's and Stereo records from the 1950's. I got a bunch of THEM, too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Identified With Christ

I think we're supposed to be that, aren't we? I mean, I've heard that ever since I've been a believer who was interested in doing something about it.

Most of the time I've heard that, it's been in connection with getting wet in a baptismal (or, for the seriously speer-uh-chal, a river). That's always caused me to wonder if we're only required to act Christian when someone who was there to see the baptism, is present. Somehow that doesn't resonate with me. [HT: Wade Burleson]

Oh well.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little bit about me, and perhaps something that drives some of my admittedly atypical (for an old retired fossil like moi') behaviors.

First, if you've spent any time around me, you might notice I usually wear a collar pin .. well, a lapel pin stuck in my collar or elsewhere on my shirt. I think that idiosyncrasy bears explaining.

Maybe 20 years ago I was on a mission trip to Jamaica. One of the teens in my group was a young lady named Christy, and she approached me the first day there and stuck a pin on the pocket of my sport shirt. I think that's it, in the picture, posing on one of my closetful of pink hats. If not, it looks just like it, and I just found this one among some old mission pictures. When I got back home from the trip, I laid the pin on the nightstand with my wallet, change, pens, .357 magnum (not really) and other stuff I usually carry in my pockets.

The next morning, as I was dressing for work, I finished putting on my sport coat (yes, I did actually wear them, once upon a time) and I noticed the pin. God then spoke to me, something on the order of:

"You going to be ashamed of me, today?"

I decided then, that I wouldn't be. So I put the pin on my lapel. Everybody at the office knew I was a believer, so why not? Yeah, right, except I woke up, later in the day, to the fact that my BIGGEST client was having an open house in their veddy veddy high class new headquarters that evening, and I was expected to attend.

I mean, these guys were spending $100K in insurance premiums at the time, and I'd never do anything to upset anyone there, right? But, I couldn't not wear it that evening, so I went on to the Open House anyway, with the pin right there.

Surprise surprise ... I got positive reactions from everyone who noticed it, that evening. They ranged from one fellow who said "I admire a man who's not ashamed of his faith..." to greeting from fellow believers. And there were some business biggies in the crowd that evening. But nobody ever showed, then or later, ANY sort of negative reaction.

I learned a lot that evening, and when I told Peg about it later, she went out an bought me 3 or 4 nice gold pins of a more permanent nature. And that started a thing that goes on to this day.

One interesting sidelight: a few days later when I was wearing one of the gold ones, a clerk in a store complimented it. For some reason, I said "If I give it to you, will you wear it?" She said yes, so I took it off and handed it to her. I also said, when she said she didn't want to take my pin, really, I said "I have a rule .. when someone says they like my pin, I always give it to them if they'll wear it." So she took it, and put it on.

I still do that, today. We ain't rich or flashy, but I've given pins away in Russia, Latvia, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and in a number of states. I cannot tell you how blessed I've been over that.

In fact .. I just thought of this ... I gave a pin to the pastor of our Hispanic Mission, about 3 years ago. A couple weeks ago, on the "bye-bye" evening joint service before they moved out, the pastor came up and showed me the pin and said he still wore it. Incidentally, they left our church as they were getting short on room ... being over 200 in attendance now, and too big to meet in the choir room ... and joined with the Church of the Highlands. That's an independent pentecostal church in our community, and they even put Pastor Alex on staff and are going to expand the ministry to other areas they want to reach. I hope the SBC doesn't find out we've spawned that sort of thing or we'll be in big trouble, won't we?

Anyway, about 15 years ago I bought a couple of "Jesus" license plates, and put them on the front of our cars. I want folks to know I'm a believer, for a couple reasons. One is that those chance meetings at restaurant, parking lots, etc are some really sweet times, when a fellow believer sees that plate and says something. Then there's also the roundabout effect it has on me when I'm in traffic and someone needs to pull out in front of me. Or does, without looking. I knows that they know I'm a believer. So I have to act like it, too.

It's not enough that God sees, of course. Heavens, I don't want people to see me acting like a heathen, too!

Yeah right. But it does have its effect. Trust me.

Pastors, look around your parking lot sometime. See what folks are proud enough of that they buy a plate and stick it on their cars (tee hee).

In the late 1970's, I was a Reserve Police Officer here in Pelham. I usually rode a shift with regular officers on Friday and/or Saturday nights. On the way home, I'd usually stop in the supermarket and pick up whatever Peg had said she needed, and I'll never forget the feeling of walking in, in uniform, and have people notice.

I was talking to my pastor, Bill Hay, about that and told him the story. I said it'd be nice of Christians were to wear a uniform, so that when folks saw us, they'd know we were believers. Bill's response was "Well?............."



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

35mm Slides from 1965......

35mm Slides from 1965 ............... $5 or so, film & development

3650u Primefilm Scanner from 2008 .... $269 (plus shipping)

Realizing how God has blessed me, SO richly, when I didn't even realize it .....

Priceless. Beyond priceless.

Lord, help me realized how You've blessed me, to this very day.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I Guess They Were Doing It All Wrong

The picture on the right is the Hammond (Indiana) Evangelical United Brethren Church. I took this picture in the fall of 1969, on our way through the Calumet area, headed for Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin. We were going to visit some neighbors who'd moved away about a year before.

According to all the stuff I know now, good ol' EUB Hammond had it all wrong. You could join without getting more than the top of your head wet, and they moistened me when I was a little bitty baby.

I guess Mom and Dad didn't know any better. They thought they were doing a good thing.

I don't recall a lot about the preaching there. I was a bit young to know whether sermons were topical or expository, and we didn't go all that often anyway. But for all the things Mom and Dad may or may not have done right, they did send me to Vacation Bible School there. More than one summer, I think. Frankly, it's been so long, and I was so young, that I don't recall how many times, or how old I was. But one thing I DO remember that I remember.

I was whatever age I would have been to have gone to VBS that summer. Some 2 or 3 months later, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be dead. To not exist. To not be "me" any more. Not silence, not rest, not peace. Just non-existence.

That's a really really depressing thought. So, I moped around for a couple of days, and recall not having much of an appetite. I recall, vividly, a lump in my throat, a weight on my shoulders, and a hollow feeling in my chest.

I can recall those like it was yesterday. No joke.

Right after supper one evening, Dad noticed my lack of appetite .. heck .. anybody would have, I suppose .. and asked me what was wrong. I said "I'm afraid of dying". His response is burned into my memory more surely than any hard drive or tape system could ever record:

"Don't you remember what they told you in Vacation Bible School? If you believe in Jesus, when you die, you go to heaven."

I said "Oh .. YEAH!" The lump in the throat, the weight on the shoulders, and the hollow feeling in the chest disappeared instantly.

I know it was still summer, as I got up, ran outside, and played with the neighborhood kids.

Anyway, for all the stuff those EUB folks may have gotten wrong, you're going to have a tough time throwing rocks their way when you're around me. If it hadn't been for those ladies and their love for kids and their little loaves of flour & salt imitation bread (we made plaques with verses spelled out in alphabet noodle letters) and the games they played with us, I shudder to think where I'd be now.

It took me a lot of years, tears at altars, and chasing around trying to be righteous, to discover what had happened that evening. As my friend and then-prayer-partner Dave Van Veld said, I'd given as much of me as I could give, to as much of Jesus as I could get. I know doggone well I was saved right then, through a simple act of trusting Jesus to take me to heaven when I died.

All the stuff that's gone on since then (the good parts) has merely been God taking me at my word, and doing what He wanted with me.

God seems to have taken care of things with the church. The EUB joined with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodists .. the building was Christ United Methodist Church by 1969 .. and the building isn't a church any more, anyway. This picture, taken in 2003, shows some sort of business now inhabits the premises.

In case you hadn't guessed, I got a slide scanner (from me) as a retirement present and I've been scanning some of the thousands of 35mm slides into my computer. And no I am NOT fibbing. I'm already up to 1380 and I have 350 on my desk to scan, yet. Plus several trays of 100 downstairs and a few 120 trays, too. Then I can get on to the similar number .. or more .. I inherited from Mom and Dad.

I don't want to think about the print pictures, yet. They date back to the time Dad was an infant, and I probably have more of them than I do slides.

If anybody needs to contact me, I'll probably be here a while.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The SBC Doesn't Deserve To Be Any Better

Boyd Luter pointed out something in a recent post that got me to thinking.

I love it when that happens. Unless I'm watching SpeedTV at the time.

He pointed out what someone else had pointed out to him; namely, that the Conservative Resurgence, for all the good it (may have) accomplished, was a political solution, applied to a spiritual problem. Gee, the times I remember God doing that among His people, He used heathen armies to do it. I am no scholar, but I simply do not recall God's people getting political, or military, with God's people.

See ... if I'd been awake during the CR, and I had been concerned about preserving the SBC, I'd hope I'd have gone to God about it, and also realized that He is capable of correcting Spiritual problems Spiritually. And I'd also have thought that God might not want the SBC to prosper and carry on, for whatever His reasons might be, so I'd have been reluctant to take any action of the sort that Judge Pressler and Dr. Patterson are reported to have taken.

I think. Hindsight is like that, you know.

So .. now .. where am I going with this. Well, let me relate a story about my brother. He'd converted to Judaism, from the Unitarian Universalist (whatever you call it .. I'd prefer not to say "church" or "faith" ...), and I'd witnessed to him, for Christ, many times. Then, when he contracted terminal cancer, I was very disturbed and really sought God's face on what to do. One day on the altar at Kingwood AoG, God spoke (it wasn't audible .. it was a lot louder than that) and asked if I trusted Him. I said yes. He asked if I trusted Him with my brother. I said yes. He then asked if I trusted Him enough to do nothing. I said yes, again.

He then said something like "Well........?"

I got up, brushed myself off, and went back to the office. I did have a chance to see Art, two days before he died, and God affirmed via what Art said, that I'd heard God correctly there on the altar. At least as correctly as these old sinful ears ever hear Him.

Rev. Wade Burleson's efforts have been valiant, to say the least. He dedicated himself to righting some specific wrongs, and correcting some pretty egregious directions the SBC and its entities have taken. He did what he knew to do. And he made a big difference in the SBC .. and among Christendom .. while on the IMB BoT. He identified the problems, the ungodliness, the unfairness, the extra-biblical actions, the improper narrowing, etc etc. He worked to correct them.

It didn't work as he desired. He didn't obtain the worthy goal toward which he was striving. I have to think God didn't want him to, or else he would have (last I heard, God was still in charge).

My personal opinion: God has already passed judgment on the SBC. God doesn't want the act cleaned up. The seeds of decay were sown in meetings over coffee and in back rooms. Silly us, we saw the narrowing of parameters, the firing of women because they happened to be born women, the expelling of God-called missionaries, the excesses of certain leaders and their spending habits, all the rest, as problems to be addressed, rather than symptoms of sin upon which judgment may already have been passed.

And speaking of Dr. Klouda, can you imagine Jesus looking down on the mess and saying "Well done" to the folks responsible for her hiring and subsequent firing?

I can't, either.

DISCLAIMER: Of COURSE I know there are wonderful organizations in the SBC. I think of Union University, for whom I have the highest regard. That's just one and there are plenty of others, I'm sure. That's not the sort of organization I'm thinking of here.

I'm not a lifelong Southern Baptist with an emotional investment in the SBC. I should have connected the dots sooner.

The plain fact is that the SBC doesn't deserve to be any better than all the garbage we've seen in the last couple of years. And please don't yell that none of us are worthy, etc. I know that, but the SBC was especially blessed early on, and it doesn't take a genius to figure something's come off the tracks, and badly at that.

One other point: don't point to souls on the mission field, or baptisms, or any of the other "successes" in the work. Those are God's successes, not ours. He used Pilate to paint a sign that pointed one of the thieves on the cross, to the saving power of Jesus, and if He can do that, He can use a corrupt organization just as well as He can a corrupt politician. We're supposed to be known by the fruit we bear, and somehow we've perverted that to mean souls "won" by our efforts. Well, God wins them, we don't, and I think we'd better be about showing the fruit of the Spirit in our collective lives, not something we've defined to be striven for in its stead.

So ... Rev. Burleson's dilemma is that he desires to see the SBC ship righted, but God may not want that done. That reduces the question, and it's a question I ask myself all the time, to "What does God want ME to do?" NOT "What does God want to happen, to the SBC?"

That never was the question, but it seems to have been the one that certain Denominational Executives have been answering, by their actions, all along.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Kingdom Symphony: Bach To The Basics

I woke up this morning, (thanks, God) thinking about Symphony Orchestras and the SBC. Here's what came to mind:

A Symphony Orchestra is composed of many different instruments. Instruments of different kinds. Played by different people. Playing different parts. Lots and lots, of each sort.

There are violins, which generally lead the way ... I mean, the First Chair Violin is usually the "Concert Master", right? ... but there are other violinists and some play other parts than the melody.

There are several other stringed instruments, too. They play supporting parts, in harmony with the melody, and occasionally even play melody, too.

I played the sax in High School, so reeds come to mind next. There's a bunch of them, too, and they play their own parts.

Same with woodwinds, etc. All the different groupings, sections, and instruments have their own part.

Then there's percussion. They set the pace for everybody.

I'm missing some, I'm sure. But last, I'll mention the Conductor and the Composer and the Arranger. In the imaginary Spiritual Symphony, they're all the same Person. I envision God as the Great Composer, the Holy Ghost as the Great Arranger, and Jesus Himself as the one and only Conductor we're supposed to follow.

Now, I mention Bach because I absolutely love how he weaves together such an impressive array of differing parts, harmonies, and rhythms into such a magnificent whole. The Brandenburg Concerto was the first Bach I ever got into, and I still hear things I never heard before when I hear it.

The work of the Kingdom is just as beautiful, and infinitely moreso, when we work with the same sort of harmony that the Vienna Philharmonic had when I first heard them play Bach in the fall of 1956 in West Lafayette, Indiana. But the individual "orchestra" members have to want to harmonize with and respect all the others in the orchestra. And stop complaining about their parts, too.

In my Junior year in High School, I was in the marching band. During the winter, we played concert numbers. I recall one day we were playing some jazz number that we all loved. The band director had Mickey Meese do an alto sax solo, one of those ad lib flights he used to do; then Dave Croner did one on his trumpet. On the last chorus, the director told everybody to do their own ad lib. Play whatever we wanted.

I STILL laugh about what followed. It was hilarious. There was no harmony, no tune, no song at all.

God gave us the score. God provides the direction. We know the last chapter, and where we're going. So we need to stick to our part, and quit tossing out instruments we don't like. We're not the composer or arranger of God's Symphony.

SO .. all you bigwigs: listen up: Quit trying to rewrite the score, disqualifying instruments you don't like, and acting like you're the Composer or the Arranger. Or even the Conductor. Those jobs are taken, and you ain't it.

In Jesus' Orchestra, we're ALL playing second fiddle.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I Retired, But I Didn't Stop Thinking

OK, so I retired.

I entered the workforce .. many of whom don't seem to .. in January 1958, after I'd dropped out of my second try at my first year of college. After knocking around a couple auto dealership jobs, I went to work at an insurance company, as a mailboy. The rest is, as they say, history.

Peg and I could scrape by on Social Security .. thanks, all you folks still sending them money .. and with our Simple Retirement Plan, a couple IRA's, and our savings, we ought to do OK. So, lacking any sort of ceremony at the office (other than handing the boss my key), the family got together for dinner last night at Firebird's Grille in Hoover. CB & Karen Scott joined us, and we had a great time.

For now at least, I'm a full-time Sunday School Teacher.

So .. what have I kept on thinking about?

First, about Wade Burleson and his resignation from the IMB BoT. We tend to read about people and their actions, and then we manufacture them in our minds to suit our own opinions and predispositions. Occasionally, we get to actually meet the person and find they're not quite like that guy in our mind. Well, I've spent a reasonable amount of time around Rev. Burleson, and find him to be just what he represents himself to be. I've never sensed any ulterior motive in what he's doing, and I personally agree with what he's trying to accomplish. So, count me on his side in all this.

As to the IMB BoT, I think their actions speak for themselves. Rev. Burleson has been most charitable in his description of their actions, and I'm not sure I would have been. I think how they have handled all the mess involving him smells to high heaven, and just like the pharisees of old, they're cloaking their misdeeds in an aura of religious righteousness. I think judgment will be, for them, harsh.

The other thing I've been thinking about is the predicted candidacy of Dr. Al Mohler for the Office of SBC President. Now, I'm a Calvinist and he seems to be one, too. So I'd figure I'd be for him, right?

Wrong. The SBC is not a Convention, or Association, of Calvinists. Or non-Calvinists. It's a grouping of SBC Churches. It was organized to facilitate certain actions by churches, not to facilitate actions by colleges or seminaries. The churches don't report to the SBC entities, it's supposed to be the other way around. So, the President ought to come from the ranks of the churches, not from the seminaries.

That's wholly aside from the obvious real or implied conflict of interest which has been voiced in lots of other blogs. And it's wholly aside from any other problems Dr. Mohler might or might not have.

During his June 2007 speech nominating Jim Richards for the office of SBC Vice-President, Mac Brunson said (actually shouted) repeatedly that we ought to elect Jim Richards because he's "one of us!"

That sounds like a decent reason to elect a pastor of a local church to the office of President of the SBC. UNLESS .... the powers who be now think that "us" really means those on the inside of the political inner circle, rather than those people for whose benefit, and of whose flesh & blood, the SBC was formed.