A New Year, and A New Decade

Well, that was quick.

Here we are, already in the last couple days of the first decade of the new millennium.

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were all getting paranoid about the mythical “Y2K bug” and here we are on the precipice of the year 2010.

Ten years ago today, I was complaining about AOL sending me free CD-ROMs for their service and now AOL is all but irrelevant, while Facebook holds sway as the current social networking paradigm.

Unfortunately, the media has neglected to identify this decade with a quick label by which it can be referred to for future eras.

I’ve heard some suggestions, some better than others. There’s a group based out of England pushing for the “aughts” and some here in the States prefer the “zeroes” but, frankly, I’m not terribly impressed with either. It seems like the historians or, at least the mathematicians, should pull their weight on this one.

But therein lies the inherent difficulty in identifying a span as long as a decade in an era where things progress so quickly.

Our culture has become so easily disposable that it’s not so much that a hot commodity is “here today and gone tomorrow” but is “here today” and gone today as well.

Andy Warhol famously quipped that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, but I’d be willing to venture that number is probably overstating it a bit nowadays.

Perhaps that’s the real contribution of this decade… things becoming more easily digestible and thus more easily disposable.

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Be Amazed, Be Very Amazed

I was standing in line at a local mart of commerce, holding a carton of eggnog, when I began eavesdropping on the young woman in line ahead of me.

By eavesdropping I mean that I was initially trying to mind my own business but, due to the sheer volume of her voice, I soon could not help but overhear a goodly portion of the conversation she was having on her cell phone.

The woman was breathlessly detailing all the items she had purchased over a 48-hour period in a long soliloquy.

Gifts ranging from the new electric razor she had purchased for her brother-in-law (whom she described as wearing a perpetual five o’clock shadow) to the latest electronic doodad for her 10-year-old son (who also, it seems, is struggling with some manner of attention deficit disorder).

At the end of this stream of consciousness, she paused for breath and then opined in a weary voice: “I still feel like I’m missing something.”

Indeed.

Now I would be the last one to play Scrooge and bellow a surly “Bah, humbug!” to those for whom this time of year is a season of great material indulgence. Surely my own children can expect plenty of gifts wrapped in brightly-colored paper and stockings stuffed with toys, candy and fruit. My beloved can also expect her husband to surprise her with a tawdry startlement of some sort.

However, I also believe there is a profound danger in losing one’s bearings when tossed about by the winds of raging commerce.

For a moment, I want you to consider deeply the purpose for this season.

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A man named Nicholas

“…he had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
…he was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!”

During a time of year when images of this certain “jolly old elf” seem to be as ubiquitous as the sparkling lights and hanging greenery found about town, perhaps it might do to look deeper into this figure that has come to be perceived as nothing less than some sort of secular demi-god.
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In the year 280 AD a boy named Nicholas was born in a provincial fishing village along the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, near modern-day Turkey.

He lost his parents while still a youngster but not before they helped him discover the gift of faith in Jesus Christ.

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