Parsimony

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I have always been on the frugal side.  OK, let’s just get it out in the open and say “cheap”.  I realized yesterday I have become even more so than I used to be and, being a true “Generation X’er”, I look outside myself to place blame.

Yesterday’s revelation was brought to me—and, by extension, to those of you who are reading this—by a desire for a softdrink.  It was about eleven o’clock and I suddenly had a craving for a soft drink (Dr Pepper was my preferred drink, though I wouldn’t have turned down a Sprite).  I didn’t get one, though.

Do I have incredible will-power?  No.  In case you forgot: I’m cheap.  The problem was not the calorie count but the time of day.  See, if I had had the craving just one hour and one minute earlier, I could have slaked my thirst—or craving—at Sonic, where all large drinks are cheap before 10 a.m.  If I had had my craving just three hours later, I could have gone to “Happy Hour” at any one of a number of establishments and gotten a drink large enough to do bladder damage with a single serving for as little as 79 cents.

Speaking of “Happy Hour”, back when I was in high school in Abilene, Texas, they opened up a new Mall (called, wittily enough, “The Mall of Abilene”).  One of the businesses that opened up in the brand new mall was a semi-upscale restaurant—for Abilene, anyway—which had applied for a liquor license.  There was much debate about whether a business located in a mall, where children might walk by, should be allowed to sell the Devil’s brew.  Eventually, the business got the license because it had a door with which, used judiciously, they could keep children out.  The unforeseen consequence, though, was that it left the local liquor board unable to turn down license requests from other merchants in the mall, which led to daily “happy” hours at Famous Amos’s Hot Dog Stand.  Up until that time, “happy” hours had been held behind closed doors so, if you didn’t go out of your way to participate, you never knew what they were really like.  Now, just walking through the mall like any innocent kid, I was brought face to face with the fact that people who drink alcohol at three o’clock in the afternoon—at a hot dog stand, anyway—look anything but happy.  I guess “Famous Amos’s Morose Hour” just didn’t have the right ring to it.

So anyway, for those of you still following me who haven’t recently attended a happy hour and can remember clear back to two paragraphs ago, I was able to quell my desire for a Dr Pepper not with will-power but with parsimony because the drinks weren’t on for cheap anywhere.  By the time two o’clock rolled around, the craving had gone.  Personally, I count that day as a victory in my personal diet wars.

Still, I can’t take the credit.  I give the credit for my lack of sugary drink yesterday—credit or blame, either word works—to those fast food places who host happy hours.  If not for them, I would have sucked down a large Dr Pepper (or Sprite!) between the hours of 11 and twelve yesterday.  It’s not my fault.

(Almost) Panic Time

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It’s almost that time of year that the men of America’s churches fear the most: that day of reckoning when we have to decide what to do about Mother’s Day.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem for women.  Women are just natural gift-givers.  I think it’s biological.  See, women have this ability to get sick, cramp up, get bigger, and then produce a baby.  If a man gets sick and cramps up and gets bigger, no good is going to come of that.

So when Father’s Day comes around, the women of the church get together and, in ten seconds, have at least eight great ideas about what to do for the men.  It’ll be clever and thoughtful and perfectly express the idea of fatherhood and Christian service and it will cost, for a church with one hundred men in it, about seven dollars.

The men, sometime in April, will be dragged together against their will and someone (in this case, me) will ask an innocuous question like, “What do we want to do for the women for Mother’s Day this year?”  Based on the looks on everyone’s faces, you’d think this group of men had just been told they’d all been scheduled for invasive probes from their urologist.

Eventually, someone will ask, “What about bookmarks?  Maybe with a verse about motherhood on it.”

I hate to be a wet blanket, but we did that last year.  And three years ago.  And then someone has the temerity to point out that the women of the church are now carrying Bibles that weigh in excess of ten pounds apiece, each volume now containing more bookmarks than sheets of paper.  (In the men’s defense, this is not just because of Mother’s Day.  Sunday School classes have been making bookmarks and giving them out for Christmas, Resurrection Sunday, Yom Kippur (even if they’re not Jewish), St. Smithens Day and Columbus Day (Italian congregations only).

It used to be easier.  Back before we had so many shopping choices, churches just presented the mothers with flowers.  A red flower if the woman’s mother was still living, white if she wasn’t.  Or, possibly, the opposite of that.

And then, someone got the bright idea of giving out “special recognition” gifts.  For instance, the woman with the most children present might receive a potted plant or the woman with the oldest child present would receive (this is where it started) a bookmark.  But then someone realized that the same woman was getting the special prizes every year, so the churches had to start coming up with some new categories.  “Mother with child who is farthest away” or “Mother with most generations of her family present” or “Poorest excuse for a mother.”

From there, it snowballed and it becomes my sad and unfortunate duty to call the men of my church together soon—I’ll put if off as long as I can—and ask, “What are we doing this year?”  Maybe as a gift to the women we COULD all go to the urologist and get vasectomies.

Look Who’s In the BIG Town!

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You don’t have to go far to find someone lamenting that Americans have a weight problem.  Turn on the TV and there will either be a “paid advertisement” for a weight-loss or exercise system (“use our machine and in just six weeks you’ll look as good as Chuck Norris or Christie Brinkley!”) or a news story about the “obesity epidemic”:

“Officials at Southwest Airlines have announced that the ‘flight’ from Oklahoma City to Dallas will now just be a bus ride down I-35 because the planes can no longer lift off with all that weight.”

There is plenty of finger pointing.  Some people think it’s because not enough healthy food is available.  “If only the people in poor neighborhoods would have more access to kale and chard,” says one prominent person who we often see on TV touting the healthy, back-to-basics lifestyle while she and her two daughters embark on their third multi-million dollar vacation of the month, “Then they would be better off!”

Many scientists who have studied these claims take accep … excep … acc … DISAGREE with the assertion on the grounds that, well, no one, no matter how much money they make, likes kale or chard.  In fact, many theologians argue whether chard is either a] a direct example of the curse all mankind received when kicked out of the Garden of Eden or 2] not even an actual food.

The next step in the blame game is to blame the restaurants.  It’s because the restaurants serve fatty foods that Americans are getting, well, fatty.  This is obviously true in the same way that it’s always the gun’s fault that murder is committed and has nothing to do with the person who pulled the trigger.

This leads to the inevitable “journalistic endeavor” of the guy who eats nothing but fast-food hamburgers for a month, washing them down with milkshakes, and then announces, “Surprise: I’m now fat!”  This, of course, leads to another person who eats at the same restaurant for a whole year and then reveals, “I didn’t gain any weight at all!”  This is followed by another person who eats at that restaurant for every meal for five years, except that he died of a coronary sometime in the middle of year three but the restaurant never noticed because he had slipped under table 4 and no one at that restaurant has EVER swept under table 4.  Finally, another man comes forward with receipts saying he has been eating at that same restaurant for eighty years and even has the receipts to prove it which just goes to show that OCD has been around for at least eighty years.

Maybe it’s because of the hormones injected in the cows we get our milk from.  Maybe it’s from the GMO corn we eat.  Maybe it’s because people a hundred years ago worked manual labor whereas now we get winded doing the Sudoku puzzle on our Kindle Fire.  Maybe it’s the restaurant’s fault and maybe it’s the consumer.

Maybe it’s all of the above.  All I know is this: I’m hungry.

Weird Thoughts

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Have you seen the commercial for the cable television company that features a panda getting all excited because the cable guy has hooked him up with a channel of bear porn?  Shouldn’t this trouble us on a lot of levels, not the least of which is that pandas are marsupials?  A panda should be no more turned on by bear porn than, well, you or I.

I saw, this past week, the perfect fill-out of an NCAA basketball bracket.  In large letters, across the whole thing, someone had written with a Sharpie, “Baseball starts in two weeks.”

Victoria’s Secret has come out with a line of Major League Baseball-themed apparel.  Or, MLB has come out with a line ofVictoria’s Secret-themed apparel.  Either way, I don’t see how this could possibly be good for society in general.  Is there really a need for a form-fitting, see-through jersey?  I’m guessing it’s for women who are convinced that the only reason their man watches so much baseball is because of the uniforms.  Uh-huh, that’s it.

Many people are lamenting that the ratings are way down for shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars”, not to mention that “X Factor” is already gone and, it turns out, America May Not Have Had As Much Talent As We Thought.  The conventional wisdom is that these shows (and other “reality” shows, like “Survivor”, “The Amazing Race” and “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelly”) have just run their course.  It sounds like a reasonable hypothesis, except that how come the NFL, MLB and the NBA haven’t run their course?  People are still tuning in to them each week even though—on a surface level—the show is the same every time.

There was an article this week in one of the “major magazines” warning the Catholic Church that, if they don’t change some of their practices (i.e. “doctrines”) they were going to shrink and become irrelevant in this “enlightened age”.  As a matter of full disclosure, I am not Catholic, but don’t you just love it when someone who is clearly hostile to an ancient and venerated organization tries to tell that organization what they’re doing wrong?  What if the Catholic church would rather do what they believe is right than pander to someone they believe is misguided?

Is it better to shrink because you’re standing on principle or grow because you’ve succumbed to pressure?

I realize that some of the warnings that they broadcast at the end of a commercial for medications are unlikely to happen.  They tested the drug on 1000 people and it made one of them incontinent, so they have to warn us that taking the drug might lead to incontinence.  Still, how many times have I been almost interested in a product—because hey, who doesn’t want better-looking toenails—only to learn that taking the product might lead to my demise?  I’ll take the ugly toenail.  And doesn’t a pill for dealing with erectile dysfunction that has the potential of leading to impotency seem like it’s made the original problem a whole lot worse?!?

And, if that pill works so well, why are the man and woman in sep

Dick Tracy Did It First (and Better)

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You may have noticed that the new “it” thing is the computer-connected watch. For people who are tired of having to haul around something as big as a cell phone, you can now bring the world wide web right to your watch. It is never made clear, in the commercials anyway, why you would want to do this.

The watches (and they are already being made by several different manufacturers) automatically display the time, the temperature and the date. With the flick of a button, the user can also—via voice prompt—ask questions of their watch. Now, if you are a male who grew up in the age of Dick Tracy, you have already spent many hours of your childhood talking into your watch. But do you really want to be seen doing this as an adult?

We’ve all enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of the fellow in the restaurant who isn’t making a good phone connection and is shouting at the top of his lungs, “I don’t owe you money, Paco! The Nets won that game!”

Surely this won’t happen with “smart watches”*, people assume. As you stand around with some friends after work, hoisting a few non-alcoholic near-beers (’cause that’s the kind of health-conscious person you are), what could be a greater way to show off your latest gadgetry than to talk to your watch and have it answer back?

You: “Watch. What is the score of the Astros game today?”

Watch: “Did you ask, ‘Why is the sore on my a— inflamed to stay?’”

This will, of course, be automatically posted as your Facebook status and you will learn that you have Tweeted it to every one of your Twitter followers.

All seriousness aside, I suppose there could be some value in a watch/telephone one could wear on one’s wrist. For instance, if you are one of those people who likes walking around with the BlueTooth thing sticking out of your ear, by switching to a watch phone you would no longer have people like me walking up and saying, “Uhura, contact the away team and let them know to be on the lookout for Klingons.” And when you’re sitting in church, no longer will your child have to keep saying, “Daddy, what time is it?” Instead, they can just lean over your watch, during an especially quiet and prayerful time, and say, “Watch, what time is it?” and everyone—but especially your child—will be thrilled to have their worship time interrupted by a polite lady’s voice saying, “The time is eleven-fifteen a.m., the outside temperature is 79 and you have eight new email messages from the ‘Hair Club for Men’.”

Which brings to mind a story this week about people who are flocking to a town called Green Bank, West Virginia (yes, I looked this up and there really is, I swear, a place called “West” Virginia) not for the free wi-fi, but because it is wi-fi free. No wireless internet, no cell phone coverage, virtually nothing that is sent from one device to another by anything other than good ol’ coaxial cable. Most of the people who are flocking there are doing so because all the radio waves and wi-fi signals, etc. of the modern world are making them sick. You can’t blame them. I used to have an allergy to living, growing plants, so I moved to the panhandle.

But I wonder how many people are moving there strictly because they want to remember what it’s like to go to a restaurant and not only talk to the person they are sitting with, but see that other people are doing the same? Personally, I’m wondering if Green Bank needs a minister.

*Remember “Swatches”? They were wristbands that looked like watches, but didn’t actually tell time. I made fun of them when they were popular, but if these telephone watches start becoming commonplace, I’m going to eat my words and wish for Swatches to come back.

Candy is Sandy

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I don’t have a sweet tooth.  I have sweet teeth.  I like almost all forms of sugar and couldn’t care a whit about all those posts on Facebook about how sugar is killing us!  [noise of slump as I collapse on the keyboard … just kidding!]

Without sugar, what would life be?  Would it be worth living?

Well, yes.  Of course it would.  And, I am confident that, if circumstances were to take place that kept me from ever having sugar again, I could make it.  I might cry and whimper a lot, but I’d make it.  I might stand and look longingly through the window of the local chocolate shop like a dog outside a kibble factory or my father outside the hardware store, but I’d make it.  I may spend part of every day praying that that never happens to me, but I’d make it.

One of my favorite candies is (are?) “Smarties”.  You remember those?  They come in a little plastic wrap of 18 disks that have the consistency of bicarb and the flavor of sweet and sour heaven.  They are multi-colored, but—as far as I can tell—the various colors do not indicate different flavors.

I think.  I’m one of those OCD people who eat multi-colored candies by color.  i.e. all the yellows, then all the purples, then … etc.  And, sometimes, I’ve gotten the sense that the colors might be different flavored.  I expressed this opinion once on Twitter and was assailed with unbelievable vitriol.  “Of course they AREN’T multi-flavored, you dolt” was one of the nicer Tweets.  Why, you’d think I had made some sort of absurd assertion like that the Filet-O-Fish tastes different from the fried apple pie.

BTW (which is internet-speak for “As an Aside”), I knew a guy in high school who, while blindfolded, could tell the different colors of M&Ms by flavor.  Considering our drama teacher didn’t really want to spend much time teaching, we had plenty of time to test this young man’s abilities and he never failed.

So anyway, have you ever wondered just what the #$%@ Tootsie Rolls are supposed to be?  Don’t get me wrong: I like them.  But what are they?  They’re not really chocolate.  They’re not really taffy.  It’s my wife’s theory that someone was trying to create chocolate bubble gum and that was as close as they could get and decided to just sell it anyway rather than throwing their hard work away.  I’m glad they did, but WHAT ARE THEY?!?!?

Candy has come a long way since my childhood.  Many of the candies we ate as children (Necco wafers, those candy-coated marshmallow eggs at easter, those things that were shaped like peanuts and were supposed to taste like peanut butter but were actually a form of nuclear waste) were actually atrocities.  I can’t believe I was so sugar-craved as to try and choke them down … but I did.

I tried to draw the line at the gum that came in baseball cards, though.  I can remember opening a pack of baseball cards only to have the gum slide out, hit the sidewalk, and SHATTER like glass.  Even as kids, we knew that—from a health standpoint—we would be better off chewing the cards and collecting the gum.

But we still chewed the gum.  It might have tasted like motor oil, but it had sugar on it.

“Kiss” Begins with What?

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“Every kiss begins with __________.”  If you filled in the blank with “slobber” or “tongue”, well, I’m not sure whether to congratulate you for having been unsullied by Madison Avenue or wonder just what you were thinking.  After all, who kisses with the tongue first?  It’s lips, right?  At least, that’s how it is where I come from!

[If you filled in the blank with “Gene Simmons” we’ll have to deduct points but still give you partial credit for trying.]

But anyway, if you’ve had a TV on at all in the last ten years, you know that the advertisers want you to fill in that blank with “K”, or, possibly, “Kay”, as in Kay’s Jewelers.  It’s a catchy little slogan, not the least because it’s really kind of obvious.  I mean, unless were talking the Cyrillic alphabet, in which case “kiss” begins with, well, some other letter.  Maybe that one that looks like a shovel or even the one that has a tail.

All that being said, their last commercial makes me think that the next time I want to start a jewelry-encrusted kiss, it’s going to start with Zales, or one of the local jewelers (check your local listings for times and availabilities).

Have you seen it?  It starts with a guy in a restaurant.  He’s looking around and everyone in the restaurant is either on a phone or a tablet, including the woman he’s with.  He’s trying to get her attention by making eye contact, but she’s too into her phone to notice.

Finally, he sends her a text message that says, “Honey, look up.”  When she does, she sees his back as he exits the restaurant, leaving her forever.

Just kidding.  That’s what a sane man would do.  This idiot is in a jewelry commercial.  What he does, once he has her brief attention, is give her a diamond necklace.

What a putz!  This woman doesn’t care about him!  All she cares about is her phone.  Considering he didn’t even take his phone out until he had exhausted all rational forms of communication, it’s a safe bet she wasn’t calling or texting him.  She was, in theory, “on a date” with him (it requires both quotation marks and a caveat), yet she didn’t care enough about him to pay him attention.

He should have left her right there like a hot rock.*  The momentary notice she gave him after the presentation of the necklace was just that: momentary.  As soon as the commercial’s over, she’s going to be taking a picture of the necklace with her phone and emailing it to all her friends, or maybe taking a selfie of him putting the necklace on her, but sheWON’T do is give him any more attention than he was receiving before.  Why?  Because he has established that, no matter how much she ignores him, he’ll still give her valuable gifts.

What he should have done, after exiting the restaurant, is go right back to Kay Jewelers and get his money back.  He should then put the money in a savings account and then maybe buy a gift for a woman who is worthy of his attention.  Or hunting equipment.  Just about anything would be a better use of his money than giving that narcissistic wench a necklace or another moment of his time.

*We talk about dropping something “like a hot rock” but, really, why would someone pick up a hot rock, anyway?

Lost in a Food Desert

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Great stretches of our country—or maybe it’s small stretches of our great country are—no I think I had … never mind.  The thing I want to write about today is “food deserts”.

Now, some of you are thinking that sounds pretty good because you read it as “food dessert” and who doesn’t like dessert?  Oh, I know, we all have at least one friend in our circle who doesn’t like dessert and doesn’t mind telling everyone, as often as they can, that they don’t like dessert in much the same superior voice as might be used to tell people you’ve been elected to sainthood even though you are neither dead nor Catholic.

No, I’m talking about a desert.  You know, the kind of thing you see in the movies where there are lots of sands and people have visions of watering holes that aren’t there.  There are probably camels in the desert, too, and not the kind you smoke.

[BTW, if you are wondering how to remember, when spelling, the difference between desert and dessert (the tasty food), remember that the tasty food has an extra “s” in it because you always want more dessert.  If that doesn’t help, buy a dictionary.]

Anyway, this food desert I’m talking about—which really confuses things because I know I just got through telling you that I was going to write about the sandy kind of desert and not the foody kind of dessert—is a phenomenon that some politicians, aided by do-gooder professors and morons, came up with several years ago.  See, they noticed that people in poorer parts of town tended to eat less healthily than the people in more affluent parts of town.

Jumping, as they are often wont to do, to the completely wrong conclusion, they decided that the reason the people in the poorer part of town weren’t eating their fruits and vegetables was because the mean people who run the fruit and vegetable distributors were racist bigots who were withholding fruits and vegetables from the poor because of their racism and bigotry.  In strict grammatical terms, this is what is known as “projection”, but we can cover that in another column.

So, these do-gooders decided to try and find ways to make the stores in poor areas carry fruits and vegetables on the “Field of Dreams” theory that, “If you make vegetables available, they will come.”  (It sounds best if spoken by James Earl Jones.)  You know what happened, though?  All those fresh foods and vegetables brought into the neighborhood stores rotted on the shelves because the people in those neighborhoods didn’t want them.

Apparently, the laws of supply and demand were at work.  The stores weren’t selling fruits or vegetables because the people weren’t buying them, not because of some conspiracy.  So now, these powers-that-be are realizing if they want the people to eat healthier (don’t bother asking, “Who’s business is it how they eat?!?!” as such questions are verboten in the modern world), they’re going to have to teach them to eat healthier.

Why didn’t they start there?  I have a few answers for that but they’re too sarcastic for me to even type.

A Shot of Crassitude

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If you are one of the people who watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday night and thought the best performance of the night was by singer Natalie Grant who walked out on the “show”, don’t feel too bad.  It just means you have taste.

Or forgot the Grammys were on.

Don’t feel too bad about that one, either, as there are so many awards programs on these days that—I’m not kidding—the Emmys actually give out an award for the best awards program broadcast.  That’s got to be a hard choice to make because how do you tell all the Country Music Awards shows apart?  There’s, like, one every other week!

Anyway, what was I talking about?  I’m not sure, but I think I was going to say something about how, if you missed the Grammys, you can count yourself lucky.  If you missed the Pro Bowl as well, go ahead and call yourself blessed.  The Pro Bowl used to be a useless football-like game inHawaiithat was one degree less interesting than watching strangers at the park play touch football.  Now it’s a useless football-like game in Hawaii that has become even more like a touch football game by having washed-up former players pick teams like theyAREthe guys playing touch football at the park.

 

Anyway (part deux), a lot of people are upset about Sunday night’s Grammy program.  Some are complaining because Katy Perry dressed like the sort of woman who might pop out of a cake at a Knight’s Templar bachelor party then did a pole dance with a broom while pretending to be burned at the stake, all while—as near as anyone could tell (if you can discern the lyrics of a Katy Perry song, it’s time to seek counseling immediately)—invoking either Satan or the ghost of Mick Jagger (who, oddly, isn’t dead).  People who are objecting to her display fall, primarily, into two categories: those who object to the romanticizing of Satanism and those who are disappointed the “burning at the stake” was simulated.

In addition, other people are objecting because Beyonce’s derriere was fondled on camera by her husband.  This, we’re told, is something children shouldn’t have been subjected to on national television which—I think—ignores a much larger issue: the sort of parent who would allow their child to watch the Grammys anyway!  I mean, really!  Did they not know going in that this was a show dedicated to the most narcissistic and base human beings on the planet?

And let’s not get into the faux wedding ceremony.

I have no problem with the people of the music industry holding an awards program.  I don’t even have a problem that they often award music that, to me (and I mean this in the kindest possible way), has absolutely no value.

No, what bugs me about all of these awards shows is the arrogant presumption that I should care about them.  When the Lion’s Club or the local welder’s union gives out awards each year, they hold a nice ceremony and honor those within their respective orders who deserve honor, but they are never so presumptuous as to think anyone outside the organization cares.

Logo or Logos?

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It’s pretty common for churches these days to have a slogan. We want it to be short (so it can be remembered) and encouraging (so people will want to remember it). Something like …

“A family place”

“Worship in peace”

“A place to call home”

“Where Jesus is Lord!”

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Nothing wrong with any of those slogans, but I’m rather partial to the last one just because it’s Scriptural. (Psalm 34:8, in case you’re curious.)

In these slogans, we’re trying to conjure up a positive mental image, the kind of thing that makes anyone who sees it say, “That sounds like a nice place. I’ll check that out some Sunday.” (Actually, we’re hoping you’ll check us out THIS Sunday, sometime between 9 and 11 a.m., check your local listings.)

It’s not a strange practice. Most businesses in our world are doing the same thing. Remember “Have it Your Way”? It’s been thirty years since a certain burger chain used that slogan, but all of us 40 and over still remember it. We may even remember the logo that went with the slogan back then. Cartoony guy with a crown? Remember him? Before they switched to that creepy guy with the plastic head.

I could go off on a long—and possibly angry or sarcastic—diatribe here about how churches have gotten so into the concept of branding that there have actually been cases of churches suing other churches for copyright infringement.

But anyway, back to this idea of a slogan and a logo. We’re looking for something friendly, attractive, warm … something that’ll bring the people in. Remember the slogan from a few years ago (it’s actually from more than a hundred years ago but it comes back every few years): “What Would Jesus Do?” That was a good slogan. What sort of slogan did Jesus use when reaching out to people?

Luke 9:23-24

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (NIV)

Jesus’s logo was (and still is, look at our churches) an instrument of unspeakable pain, torture and humiliation and his slogan was, “Come and die.”

I’ve been wondering how well that would go over as a marketing strategy in Dumas. A giant banner hung out in front of the church that says, “Come in and die!” And instead of the nice, attractive, smooth cross we have hanging in the sanctuary now, what if we put up a rough piece of wood splattered with blood, chunks of flesh hanging off it where a person who had been flayed before being attached to said cross had hung? What would that do to our church attendance?

It about destroyed Jesus’s attendance figures. He goes from being surrounded by thousands to deserted by all but a dozen followers. Either Jesus was lousy at marketing or he wanted something other than just numbers.

He wanted followers. He wanted people who knew the cost and were willing anyway. He wanted people who weren’t just hanging around because it was the fun, cool or expedient-at-the-moment thing to do, but because they loved him and wanted to spend eternity with him, in his Father’s presence. He wanted people who would take him up on his offer of rest, but were fully aware struggle might come first.

People who would put him and his kingdom first. People who were willing to “come and die”.