Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekly Office

February 24 - "I have taken my downstairs office and I have turned it into a place to hang out, a place where unattractive and attractive people can get together to meet, to greet, to see the ones that you love, to love the ones that you see..." (Michael)

February 25 - "When I discovered YouTube, I didn't work for five days. I did nothing. I viewed 'Cookie Monster Sings Chocolate Rain' about a thousand times." (Michael)

February 26 - "When the baby emerges, mark it secretly in a kind of mark that only you could recognize and no baby snatcher could every copy." (Dwight)

March 1 - "Why are you helping her? You're not even dating. She's my friend. And ultimately, my strategy is to sort of merge into a relationship without her even knowing." (Michael)

March 2 - "Ronni was 'blah!' Things were at an all-time sad here, but then I got an e-mail from Ryan that he was coming back to town and I called the temp agency and I told them, I will pay you any amount, just give me Ryan Howard. Give him to me. I want him. I need him." (Michael)

March 4 - Michael: "So how much are we going to lose?" Jim: "I would like to lose sixty-five pounds." Michael: "Yes! All right. Who else? Angela, can I put you down for ten pounds?" Angela: "No. My doctor wants me to gain weight." Michael: "If you gain weight, you will die. I want you to live forever. I want us all to live forever."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jesus was a Jew

Christ could have been born a Roman. The proudest claim of His day was "Civus Romanus sum!" (I am a Roman citizen.) At His birth, Rome ruled the world and to be a citizen of Rome meant you could enjoy all the privileges of the empire.

Or Christ could have been born a Greek. This race has given to the world aesthetics and a beautiful language. Rome conquered Greece...but the Greek language would become the universal language. But Christ did not choose to be identified with "The glory that was Greece or the grandeur that was Rome" according to Poe. Rather He became a member of the most downtrodden, despised race of people in His day. In fact, we are still dealing with anti-Semitism in our era. Just try and get your mind around the horrors of the Holocaust...I've been to Dachau, it's terrifying. Jesus was a Jew!

Sholem Asch writes about being a Jew: "Jesus Christ is the outstanding personality of all time...Is still a Teacher whose teaching is such a guidepost for the world we live in...He became the Light of the World. Why shouldn't I, a Jew, be proud of that?"

Why, then, do we today still attempt to portray Christ as having blond hair...perhaps it's time to show proper respect to the heritage of the son of God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Secrets of Unhappiness

What's bothering you? That's what the government decided to find out when it launched a $10-million study, "The Primary Causes of Unhappiness," in 1994. Mental-health professionals throughout the country conducted more than six thousand interviews during which subjects were asked to list those problems causing them the most concern and worry. The recently released results of this government study found that the primary cause of mental distress in this nation is government studies.

Almost 80 percent of all respondents indicated that information provided to them by government studies had three or more times been the cause of significant distress and had caused them to alter behavior that they had previously enjoyed. Most subjects reported that they had been happy or relatively happy with their livers until learning of the dangers that they faced. For example, more than $85 percent of all persons interviewed for this study claimed they had little or no knowledge of the existence of the ozone layer until being informed that it might be disappearing, and they had previously never been concerned about it at all. A similarly high percentage of respondents reported having little or no concern about global warming causing rising tides until made aware of this by government studies.

The general unhappiness caused by government studies reached into the home and workplace. Almost 100 percent of all persons interviewed reported that they had never or almost never been concerned about using microwave ovens, cell phones, or living in proximity to power lines until government studies raised issues of potential dangers. In particular, respondents reported that they had suffered depression, worry, anxiety, and general unhappiness after reading government studies concerning the effects on their health of the most commonly enjoyed foods. According to this study, at least half the people queried had given up or significantly decreased their consumption of the foods they most enjoyed. They had reduced intake of most sugar-based products, particularly chocolate, as well as most fried foods, foods containing saturated fats, foods grown or raised on farms using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and foods resulting from any form of genetic engineering. They had also significantly reduced or eliminated drinks containing sugar or caffeine. They reported being fairly to very upset by government studies indicating that sugar was potentially dangerous while sugar substitutes were potentially even more dangerous.

Conversely, the respondents had significantly increased consumption of foods whose taste they most often described as "poor to cardboard." The study also found that those people interviewed had moderately to significantly changed their normal behavior patterns due to government studies. In many cases they reported that they had reduced time spent on "enjoyable" activities, including watching television, while increasing the amount of time spent on "less enjoyable" activities, such as exercise.

The government study concluded that the elimination of government studies might significantly improve the mental health of citizens. But it also recommended that further studies be funded to consider the consequences of such an action.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Special Connection...?!

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife,after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.

The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Friday, March 12, 2010


So, while this is my 4-year-old daughter's name, it also has some pretty rich history in the Bible and through the Hebrews. The name is from the prophecy of the aged patriarch Jacob who on his deathbed pronounced blessings on each of his sons. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes" (Genesis 49:10). As you read the blessings you will also find scathing rebuke where there has been moral failure. Some instances of instability, lust, and cruelty forfeited the blessings of birthright. But you can also find special blessings reserved exclusively for the tribes of Judah and Joseph.

In the blessing pronounced on the descendants of Judah there is another piece of the mosaic of messianic prophecy. The specific tribe from which the Messiah would come is revealed. This blessing and prophecy gives us the name "Shiloh." Its root meaning is "to rest" or "to give rest." It is another Old Testament prophecy regarding the rest and peace which Jesus gives to all who follow Him.

There is a place in the state of Tennessee with this beautiful name, Shiloh. However, today it is known only as a place of bloodshed. Our history of the Civil War reveals to us that more than 25,000 men were killed on this battlefield. Those events are the opposite of the meaning of the word.

Jesus Christ is true to the meaning of all of the great titles given to Him. These are descriptions of His character and life mission. In this little-known title, He is the only One who can still bring rest to His people. Hear His promise once more, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Our prayers are for Shiloh to live out her name, and provide rest, comfort, and encouragement to all her cross her path. You know, we actually selected her name because the meaning described to us was "God's gift; precious sacrifice." This, too, falls in line with God's promises and covenant in Jesus. May we all live and trust and hope in that gift of rest.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weekly Office

February 18 - "This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to randomly select three names and these three people will get liposuction. Uh, Stanley, Phyllis, Kevin. You will be responsible for your own medical bills." (Dwight)

February 19 - Michael: "Does anyone have any idea what the number one cause of death is in this country?" Dwight: "Shotgun weddings." Jim: "That's not what that is." Creed: "Fright. Being scared to death."

February 21 - "Normally I don't condone leaving early but I have an appointment with the horse doctor. How that horse became a doctor, I don't know. No, I'm kidding. He's just a regular doctor who shoots your horse in the head when its leg is broken." (Dwight)

February 22 - Andy: "I don't know if there's any one place that has all these things." Angela: "That's not my problem." Andy: "Thousand-year-old church in the continental United States. There has to be a rainbow, twenty-four-hour veterinarian on call." Angela: "This is very important to me, so--I have work to do. Just do it."

February 23 - Jim: "Oh, right, some drunk guy hit on Pam last year. Said he was grabbing her for balance." Pam: "Yeah. You don't grab these for balance." Jim: "Uh..."

February 24 - "I have taken my downstairs office and I have turned it into a place to hang out, a place where unattractive and attractive people can get together to meet, to greet, to see the ones that you love, to love the ones that you see..." (Michael)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Unspoilt Place

Unexpectedly, Daniel Dengate walked out of the dense jungle into paradise. For the famed documentarian, the discovery of West Africa's Golong tribe enabled him to fulfill his lifelong dream. Until Dengate unexpectedly found them living in their Stone Age village in a difficult-to-reach valley, the self-sufficient Golong people had existed only in legend. For what anthropologists estimate is at least one thousand years, the "Lost Tribe" had had absolutely no contact with the outside world. Their primitive life had been totally untouched by modern civilization. This was the last unspoilt place on earth.

Dengate discovered that the Golong people lived in peace and harmony with their magnificent natural surroundings. Their language had no words for enemy or hate or jealousy, they made no weapons, they ate only what they could grow. Man and woman lived together with love based on mutual respect for their lifetime, their children were reverent toward their elders, members of the tribe shared all their possessions and worked happily together. The tribe raised magnificently colored butterflies, which they set free at the full moon as their gift to the gods of nature.

The Golong people had created a paradise on earth, Dengate realized, a living model of how beautiful life could be if people learned to live together peacefully. And he vowed to bring the message of this innocent tribe to the world.

He began filming the PBS documentary A Perfect Place. His twenty-four person crew lived among the Golong people for six months, learning their customs and their language, while teaching them rudimentary English and introducing them to basic technology, such as Panaflex cameras, cell phones, and fax machines.

The documentary and accompanying book appealed tremendously to the desire of many people to return to a simpler world. The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award and the book became a best-seller. Based on this success, Dengate was able to secure financing for the romantic feature film Love in a Grand Old World, in which Sandra Bullock starred as a member of a documentary-film crew who falls in love with a widowed Golong man with an adorable young child.

As the Golong "craze" began growing in America, Dengate knew he had to find a way to protect the tribe from exploitation. So he got them the best lawyer in the field, noted theatrical attorney Andrew Glenn. Gleen immediately negotiated a deal for all rights to manufacture and market authentic Golong woven jewelry, which would be produced in China and sold exclusively on the Home Shopping Network. With proceeds from this sale, the tribe was able to build a small hospital, install a satellite dish, and purchase several flat-screen TVs.

Struck by the simple beauty of traditional Golong songs, Barry Manilow recorded an album of authentic Golong music in a recording studio built less than a mile from the village, hiring Golong tribespeople to sing backup vocals. The opportunity to visit the last unspoilt place on earth proved to be irresistible to thousands of people, who were willing to spend large sums of money to experience a culture completely free of materialism. To make these tourists comfortable, the Hilton Hotel chain constructed the Golong Resort and Casino, which also provided employment for tribe members.

In addition to the regular tours that began visiting the village, Club Med set up a small village and landing strip within observation distance. Club Med management was able to hire several villagers for full-time trainee positions. Advertisers took note of the public desire to slow down. Chrysler created an entire campaign for a new line of four-wheel-drive vehicles entitled "A New Car for an Old World" around this phenomenon. "Deep in the jungle there is a very special place where life is lived slowly," the narrator said mellifluously, as a brute of a vehicle was seen ripping through the jungle, "but you might want to spend your whole vacation getting there." The campaign premiered during the Super Bowl. In recognition of their work in this commercial, the Golong people were granted the first tribal membership in Screen Actors Guild history.

When the jungle surrounding the village became overbooked, Disney Inc. was able to convince several members of the tribe to set up a touring unit. This group of Golongs traveled with the "Jack the Ripper on Ice" troupe and lived in small temporary villages in major arenas where ticketholders could observe them. Discounts were given for school groups. Unfortunately, the worldwide demand for personal appearances by the tribespeople made it impossible for them to continue living in their coconut-leaf huts. So, to fulfill commitments made to tour groups, almost one hundred Chinese people were brought into the jungle to lead authentic Golong lives.

Less than four years after he had stepped out of the jungle into ancient history, Dan Dengate's lifelong dream had finally come true: he had earned more money than he ever thought possible and was able to retire to play golf.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hoorary! (we can now resume...) Weekly Office

February 9 - Kelly: "Why is it okay for smokers to take breaks all the time? If I want to go outside and hang out once an hour, then I'll just take up smoking. I'll do it. I don't care." Meredith: "I'll smoke with you. I got a bag of cigars in my purse."

February 12 - "Just about everybody in this office is single right now, including me. And everyone is experiencing an incredible amount of emotional pain. Especially me, because of my great capacity for emotion. And it is my first Valentine's Day since Holly so I think that I am well qualified to understand that these people need to be protected from having love shoved into their faces." (Michael)

February 14 - "These people need love. And I am going to get it for them. Who cares if we sell a little bit less paper today. A great boss cares more about the happiness of his employees than anything else. I am going to be Cupid. And I'm going to shoot my sparrow at unsuspecting victims and they are going to get hit and say, 'I'm in love.' I was hit by Cupid's sparrow. A funny little bird but he gets the job done." (Michael)

February 15 - Andy: "I'll drop an ethics bomb on you. Would you steal bread to feed your family? Boom!" Oscar: "Exactly, Andy." Andy: "Yeah. I took Intro to Philosophy twice. No big deal." Dwight: "That's a trick question. The bread is poisoned. Also, it's not your real family. You've been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male."

February 16 - "Okay fine! You know what? Phyllis did injure herself. But she injured herself having fun. And I don't think she would trade that memory for anything." (Michael)

February 17 - "Michael had chicken pot pie for lunch. Actually, let me rephrase that. Michael had an entire chicken pot pie for lunch, and let me be more specific--Michael ate an entire family-sized chicken pot pie for lunch and then he promptly fell asleep. So we're all trying to be very quiet so as to not wake him up before 5 p.m., which actually should be in ten minutes." (Jim)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee is the world's lowest freshwater lake at 680 feet below sea level. This lake is about 13 miles long and as wide as 8 miles. In some spots, it is as deep as 150 feet. It was also known as the "Lake of Chinnereth," the "Sea of Tiberias," or the "Lake of Gennesaret." This lake is in the center of some of the most fertile area of Israel. It is surrounded by bountiful fields and lush orchards.

It was the center of the fishing industry and a main source of income in Jesus' day. More than 40 different species of fish come from these waters. The fish that were caught were dried or salted and then exported through all of the region and beyond. It was here where Peter and Andrew were tending their nets when Jesus invited them to become "fishers of men."

It was from the seaside town of Capernaum that He launched His Galilean ministry. Mary Magdalene came from the tiny, nearby village of Magdala. It was on these beautiful shores that Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes of the boy's lunch. It was here that he drove the demons from the man possessed and into the herd of swine who drowned themselves in the lake. It was here that Jesus appeared to His fishing disciples after the resurrection with the invitation to come and eat the fish which He had prepared on the fire. And it was in this setting that Jesus restored Peter by commanding him to "feed" His sheep.

And would you believe that to this day, the water is still pure enough from which to drink...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Thoughts of the Longest-Distance Runner

(wanted to share this for all you marathoners out there...seems like EVERYBODY'S running and may have entertained this mental, inward struggle)

When American long-distance runner Alex Jordan decided to run nonstop from coast to coast to raise awareness of knee and joint diseases, many people believed the task he had set for himself was impossible. But as Jordan persisted, state after state, his saga captured the attention of the public and became a symbol of American determination. What thoughts passed through his mind as he ran the tortuous route across the country? Using a state-of-the-art Nagma lightweight tape recorder, Jordan shared his thoughts during his run into history. Here is an excerpt from those tapes, made as he raced across Kansas:

"This is really, really stupid. My feet are killing me. I've done some dumb things in my life, but where this stupid idea--Ow! Darn, that hurts. What am I, out of my mind? How did I let them talk me into this...I swear, if this doesn't get me on Letterman...Hey! Watch it with that truck, jerk. I swear, if I ever finish this thing..."