Saturday, November 30, 2013

Radix Malorum est Cupiditas

Four times, I flew west across the Pacific, spending ten to twenty days each time in Seoul.  My business trips usually involved me working the night shift, so I had the opportunity to explore downtown Seoul.  
I visited the Korean War Museum (finding my grandmother's first husband's name on a memorial wall), the Korean National Museum, the 63 Building (once the tallest building in Asia), N Seoul Tower, and the rebuilding of the Nandaemun Gate.

But, I'd decided that, while in Seoul, I would visit Yoido Full Gospel Church, the famous megachurch with over 700,000 members.  I sat in the foreigner's section of the balcony, listening to the multi-lingual headset listening to Pastor Cho's sermon interpreted by an interpreter named Isaac. I took pictures of the church...I even went to their bookstore and bought a book for a friend of mine.  (St. Augustine's Korean)

Last week, while looking over the news, I saw that there were allegations of embezzlement at the church.  The elders of the church had announced that, in addition to the $10 million that is being investigated in relation to a stock purchase...

Quoting a Korean newspaper, "In total, the elders are accusing the Chos of embezzling as much as US$500 million or more in church money."  (Article from

My God.

It's mindboggling.

It's at least twice the annual income of YFGC - at it's peak in '08.

And...I'm left wondering...
Anomaly?  Symptom?  Pattern?

We ask to be judged on our intentions and our best days.
We are judged on our actions and our worst days.

We ask to not be judged based on the actions of a few.
But we sometimes judge a group by the actions of a few who disgrace the group, assuming that they represent the whole.

I've heard of preachers who make their money off their books.
I've heard of preachers who put everything from their books back into their ministry.
I've heard of preachers being called on the carpet about their finances.

And I'm left thinking back to a simpler day, when the church I attended would keep the members up-to-date on the business of the church on a monthly basis.  (3rd Wednesday, as I recall)

So...what is a church supposed to spend their income on?
  • Evangelization
  • Care for the poor
  • Staff salaries
  • Property upkeep & utilities
  • ?? ?? ??

By the way, why did the itinerant Jesus and his apostles require a treasurer?

Advent I

Tomorrow is the 1st Sunday of Advent.

Yesterday, while working for a major retailer, I realized something.

This season, I will be joining millions of Christians in celebrating Advent, the season before Christmas.

This is a very comforting thought, that we approach the incarnation, the birth of Christ, with a holy anticipation.

Well, that was easy...Too easy...

Pressure turns coal into diamonds, is that it?
Well, that’s a physical fact, MacGyver.
It can also crush it to dust.

-- MacGyver, Hell Week, S3 Ep 9, 11/23/1987

I've lived a charmed life.  An American, middle-class life.  My kids are well-educated, there's food in my cabinet, and heat & a/c in my residence.  I've never had to bury a sibling or child;  I have only been hospitalized one night since as far back as I can remember.  And I grew up a whiz kid.

I've had it easy.

Then why...why...why does life seem so difficult?  Why do the #firstworldproblems I face (and, even the serious ones - like the times my only vehicle had a major mechanical problem, or the stresses involved with the move earlier this year) make me turn turtle, look for a quiet spot in the woods miles away from anyone...

In my moments of honesty I realize that I am weak.  Untested.

It's not that I fear apocalypse, or ruin, or loss.

It's that I know that...or maybe I don't know...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No more road games this year

Today, Sporting KC plays Houston Dynamo in the 2nd leg of the Eastern Conference Championship.

What's at stake?  (sarc)  Not much (/sarc)
  • A Sporting KC win brings MLS Cup to Sporting Park on Saturday, December 6.  This would be the first major-sports title match in Kansas City since game 7 of the 1985 World Series
  • A Sporting KC win puts SKC in the 2014-2015 CCL.
    (Correction, SKC needs to win MLS Cup, or have Portland win MLS Cup to get in)
  • A Sporting KC win gets the can't-beat-Houston-jinx off our backs.
This is the 6th time Kansas City's MLS team has reached this step - one match away from the MLS Cup Final.  So far, we're 2-3, having beaten LA in 2000 and 2004 to advance to MLS Cup; and losing to San Jose in 2003, and Houston in 2007 and 2011.  (And, Houston is actually - conspiratorial glance - the old SJ team that beat us... kinda like the Browns/Ravens thing.)

On November 9, SKC and Houston played to a scoreless draw.  This time, there will be a winner.  If not in 90 minutes, then in 30 minutes of overtime.  If not in 120 minutes, then in penalty kicks.




Traditional reading of the Bible concludes that Jesus was 33 years old at the time of his death and resurrection.

A glance at my birth certificate or drivers' license concludes that I'm 33 today.


Life is a series of events, with the occasional calendar-based offset.  For example, only a small group of people have April 9, 2051 circled on their calendar.  Or April 12, 2018.  Or September 16, 2013.

(50th anniversary, daughter's 18th birthday, day of my father's passing.)

But today is my 33rd birthday.

And I *feel* like it should matter.


I always feel like I should *feel* something.  For example, on Good Friday, I find myself searching for some connection to the spiritual, the religious, the sacrifice, the events of the Passion.

For some reason, I'm convinced that the occasion of finishing 33 years around the sun is an occasion to consider God.  My faith (which honestly still hasn't recovered from a disappointment and a funeral five years ago; to say anything of the highwater mark of my four semesters at Western).  My role as a father, especially in guiding my children in the way they should go.
  1. What I believe
  2. Why I believe it
  3. How I will live my faith

Hold me to this.

God have mercy on me.  Kyrie Eleison.

The boys of fall

Bounce, bounce, nothin's gonna keep me down
Bounce, bounce, stand up, shout it out
--Bounce, Bon Jovi

USA def MEX 2-1, @ Ft Lauderdale, 1980-11-23

"1980 was a good year.  Reagan was elected, the US beat the Soviets, and Pratt Bros.™ 2000 were born."

A few people asked me, what's it like being a twin?  I found someone's response...what's it like not being a twin?

...and a brother is born for adversity... Proverbs 17:17b

When only the best will'd better call two.

There are no problems, only solutions.

Happy Birthday, Robert & Lincoln!  (And, Happy Birthday, me.)