Do you believe in ghosts? Halloween has just passed and Larry King had an interesting show on Friday night (Saturday morning in Hong Kong) in which he interviewed several people related to ghost appearances, ghost whispers, the paranormal, and the spiritual. I was sucked in from beginning to end. But what really hooked me on the topic was the story of Eastern Airlines flight 401. Have you heard of this? Apparently when this plane went down on December 29, 1972 in Florida the captain died, and returned to haunt Eastern Airlines for many more years to come.
Since I had absolutely no idea about this air accident or the supposed haunting I decided to read about it for myself, but not immediately on the World Wide Web. Instead I am placing an order for this and this. There is something about an unsolved mystery, an airplane accident, and a ghost that intrigues me and (I think) will make for good reading and watching. Delayed gratification. I've barred myself from reading the Wikipedia entry on the matter, and I'm going to anticipate receiving these resources so I can dig in. It will be fun. Something to look forward to.
But that was just an honorable mention during the show. King interviewed Dan Aykroyd and his father Peter. Together, they are authors of this new book. You may think, "well of course he had on Aykroyd. The movie Ghostbusters is one of the all-time classics." But did you know the Aykroyd's believe (sincerely) in ghosts and Peter is a regular at seances? They have studied ghosts (what they prefer to call spirits) for generations. That was an interesting nugget since I just assumed Dan was in the movie because he is a good actor. But the more they talked on LKL the more I wondered about the connection of their idea of spirits and my own ideas about spirits, formed mainly (in my case) by my faith in Christ and awareness of evil spirits that fight in vain with Jesus for my soul. What is the connection between spirits and ghosts?
Larry also hosted the guys from the television series on Discovery Channel Ghost Lab. These two sure do have an intriguing set of stories where they actually record supposed ghosts on film and also the voices of ghosts. King had them show how a hotel down south in the U.S. is haunted by Civil War veterans. They had footage which looked like a woman from that time period in the hallway and they use some souped new technology to record voices (in this case of some Civil War General). You may be thinking what I would normally think, "Doubt it. Doesn't happen. Figment of their imagination." I am generally skeptical as well. Ghost lab guys claim ghosts are an energy that leaves a person when they die, and this energy cannot die. So the person returns and speaks and appears and scares the living daylights out of those they haunt. Well, these guys and many other producers of t.v shows think this is real. Doing all of it for a buck and some ratings? Maybe? Most likely? I don't know, but it sure was interesting. (And there are dozens of other shows, just like this one, tracing ghosts. Check your local listings.)
What was less interesting was guest Joan Rivers who claims her NYC apartment was haunted by the previous owner until she called in a spiritist that cleansed it, and until she hung up a portrait of the old woman in her foyer. Now the deceased former owner is happy and doesn't come through the pad at night while Rivers is sleeping scaring the fur off her dogs and locking doors, etc.
But seriously, why does this fascinate so many people? Why am I getting subtly sucked in to at least explore the reality of ghosts and/or spirits? Beyond the fear and the mystery and the unknown I do just wonder. My conviction still is there is no such a thing as a ghost, but there most certainly are spirits. We need not fear them. We have all the protection we need in Jesus Christ. But I think an exploration of Larry's topic sure will make for an interesting study and I'll come back later to report what I find out, especially about Eastern Airlines 401.
Tags: Civil War, Dan Aykroyd, Discovery Channel Ghost Lab, Eastern Airlines, Ghostbusters, Ghosts, Jesus Chris, Joan Rivers, Larry King, Mystery, Peter Aykroyd, Seance, Spirits, Television
If you're looking for a clear and fascinating article that explains the current global financial crisis affecting all of us, then read this. And if you want to read an intriguing piece on scientific study that affects the breaking of human hearts as well as finance models, then read this. I enjoyed both and benefited from reading them tremendously. Both are easy to read too!
When Johnny Cash went to the San Quentin prison on February 24th 1969 he displayed his wild ability to perform. (Watch it here.) Before he struck into the opening notes of his classic "I Walk the Line" he told the prisoners,
"You know we've been on tour for about a week now after our last recording session and they say old Johnny Cash works good under pressure.
(Strums the guitar)
Put the screws on me and I'm gonna screw right out from under you, that's what I'm gonna do. You know that?
I'm tired of all that shit.
(Strums as the prisoners hoot, holler, and whistle)
ALRIGHT! I'll tell you what. The show is being recorded and televised for England. And they told me, they said um...they said you gotta do this song, you gotta do that song, you gotta stand like this or act like this but I just don't get it man, you know, I'm here to do what you want me to and what I want to do.
(Hoots, hollers, and screams from the prisoners)
OK? SO WHAT DO YOU WANNA HEAR?
(Prisoners go wild and yell out the names of their favorite songs. Walk the Line is shouted the most.)
Alright. I walk the line."
And away old Johnny Cash goes!! No wonder we miss the Man in Black. He was a performer. The audio of this famous concert kind of reminds me of the Cold Play jamboree I went to last Wednesday in Hong Kong. Oh me, oh my can those guys play! Two-plus hours of all-out energy and all that jazz. Big yellow balloons filled with confetti falling during "Yellow." Chris Martin running wild around a u-shaped stage then hunkering down with his head so far into his piano you thought he was a headless key man. Halfway through they took off up through the 11,000 in what they called "the biggest room we have ever seen. It's in two time zones." From the back they busked a couple of ditties and Martin asked for the lights to be shut off while we lit up our cell phones and started a big wave (like at the baseball park). 11,000 doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, and business people all suited up and standing on our chairs like teenagers at a Miley Cyrus appearance. It was wild and fun and one darn good concert. On the train ride home revelers yelled in shouted hum the chorus of Viva La Vida and a dance train formed down the center aisle of our ride down the rails. Unseen in Hong Kong unless you've come from a performance!
Humanity cries out to the performer
Don't stop your trick and treat
We won't go home, we won't settle
Now that you have tested your mettle and it works
Sunday was International Women's Day. This is one of these days we absolutely must have on our calendars, but I wonder how many of us noticed it? If you didn't it could be because where you live, work, and have your being is one of the rare places in the world where women are honored for who they are and their contributions to society are accepted and encouraged. Somehow I doubt that's how you missed it. Most countries, companies, churches, and communities worldwide do not honor women the way we should. But there is one country that takes International Women's Day seriously and that is the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan. In that country it's a public holiday. However, even in this there is an irony. The truth is on the ground, in the day-to-day life of this nation women are terribly mistreated. It's proof we can put these days on our calendar, but if that's all we do it is not nearly enough.
Personally I am greatly concerned about the lack of women's rights globally but there is one particular place I have the most cause for concern and that is, sadly, the church. My conviction is that one of the top three sins the evangelical and Catholic church needs to repent from is our inadequate practice of refusing to empower, release, ordain, and embrace the Spirit infused ministry of many of God's finest daughters. This is more than a mistake or failed theology, it is a sin. I don't have time in this space today to get into the nitty gritty of the theological/biblical debate, but I want you to know I am aware of the debate and the points on both sides of the argument. My point today is that the church better pay attention to the message of "the world": honor women and the gifts they bring to the full community of humanity. We ought to take heed to the problems women are facing worldwide, some of which is happening inside our holy halls. Ironically, this is one example of the voice and actions of Jesus that tend to align themselves more with "the world" than with the church (at least the churches I have been a part of).
So what do we do? Briefly, here are a few recommendations:
1. Give women pursuing the pastorate and ordination the same tests we give men who want to be ordained.
2. When these women demonstrate their Spirit given destiny for the ministry, ordain them as full members of the clergy empowered to serve in the same ways our finest male ministers meet the needs of God's people.
3. Re-write the statutes, policies, charters, and government documents of churches to reflect this change.
4. If we're hesitant to embrace women as ordained and lay ministers, repent! We must explore why this is and seek to be persuaded by the Spirit to wholeheartedly and sincerely change our minds. Explore the biblical material thoroughly, but come to it with open minds that can be convinced against previous convictions. Be ready to identify the true reasons why you do not want to set women free.
5. Do not allow a minority view that creeps into many churches, a minority view that typically uses its power to deny women the privilege and joy of fulfilling their destiny, to commandeer this Christ-like movement and force us into a frozen state in which we cannot move forward to set women free. I am warning you: these men are out there and their wives (submissive to their husbands in the power structure they've staked their marriages on) will seek to destroy anyone who disagrees with them and promotes these changes. Get ready to fight. You have no choice. Standing up to injustice never, ever comes easy.
These are my concise and brief suggestions. Much more can be said.
If you want to read some good articles on women in ministry by someone who takes my view, read here. Scot has both analysis and interpretation that is solid scholarship written for the everyday, busy person.
When I was in my senior year of college I took a class on the U.S. presidency. It was one of the better courses I have ever taken. I was really into the topic, our professor was intelligent but fun, and my classmates were easy to work with and we learned a lot that semester just before we graduated on a warm spring afternoon. Our final project meant that we needed to chose a U.S. president and write about his life and administration in the White House. For some reason that I cannot remember I chose Richard Milhous Nixon. This was a choice I never regretted and Nixon has stuck with me teaching my positive and negative lessons through the last 13 years. Nixon, believe it or not, remains my favorite president.
I don't believe there is anything wrong with wanting to be great. I admire that in men and women and I intend to be great in whatever I put my hands and mind to, don't you? But in the pursuit of greatness what kind of person are we becoming? Pride, of course, is the enemy of our greatness. Some would say that without pride it is impossible to be great, but I don't agree. A personal humility and a humble understanding of who we are and our capacity to be trapped in sin and sins that we cannot easily get out of, are necessary traits of all truly great leaders. This humility is the key trait of the greatest leader who ever lived. No, not NIxon. The greatest leader who ever lived: Jesus Christ. A self aware man who understood his own weaknesses and submitted those to the watchful and caring authority of his Father marks him in sharp contrast to Richard Nixon, to me, and to all who have followed after Jesus.
David Frost, himself asked to reflect on the interviews at the tail end of this DVD says of President Nixon, "A sad man who so wanted to be great." Yes. I have always felt that way of RMN. He is a tragic figure on the American conscience. But here again is where he serves as a teacher. How do I go out a cheerful, glad man who was great? I think a personal humility born in self-awareness of my capacity for sin and a willing and eager heart that is prepared to admit my wrong and seek forgiveness is a path I must always be quick to step onto in this journey of life. To be humble or even to be wrong is not to mean you cannot be great. But to fail to admit wrongdoing, to confess it, to receive your forgiveness and to move on. That is surely detrimental to greatness and, in the end, leaves one sad.
Fantasy football starts soon with the drafts. I am in two leagues. The BTL drafts this coming Monday and AJs league drafts next Saturday. Time to pick a roster that will take me to the top! And this can only mean one thing: football is back. The Patriots kick off their regular season on Sept. 7th. Notre Dame gets underway the day before.
Quite the typhoon yesterday and it cancelled my theology class in its first week. Well, now we're down to a four-week class and there's so much to cover. Maybe God doesn't control the weather?
And finally, my evening at the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian event was outstanding and far exceeded my expectations. "Why have I not been a fan of horsing jumping until now?" I asked myself several times during the premier performance of these HK Games. The ticket was given to me by a friend I had only met once and I am grateful for the opportunity both to see an Olympic event live (this was the final event in Hong Kong) and to cheer on some very gifted riders and the strongest, most beautiful horses I have ever seen. (For those of you who do not know, one of my favorite animals is the horse and the horse's face, nose, snout, and mouth is a work of art. I hope one day I'll be able to own and ride my own horse. Maybe someday.)
What impressed me Thursday evening was the hush that falls over the crowd when the horse and its rider start their run (you could literally hear a pin drop, which is a miracle if you've ever heard excited Chinese speaking Cantonese), the sheer power and might of the horse, and the skill, concentration, and physique of the riders. This was also an event I went to by myself. There is something deeply spiritual for me when I do this from time-to-time. I remember going to a USC college football game by myself some years ago in California and I had the same experience there. Just me, myself, and I sitting in a huge crowd - in some ways seen and acknowledged - and yet in other ways completely unknown. What is it about this alone and yet very much a part of the crowd that I find so appealing?
Anyway, here are some photos: