Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Chicago Bulls Win a Nail Biter

Not much to say, except we do it all again May 2.


Back now to your regularly scheduled blog reading.


Hypocrisy and Religion

I have often encountered observant people who easily, and accurately, note the lives of Christians living inconsistently with what they believe. They, the people I encounter, usually are referring to some scandal that hit the news, or some errant pastor or priest they knew growing up.

They could be referring to me if they knew me well enough, but, thanks to the good effort on my part in keeping up appearances, my failures are less known than Jim Bakker (he placed money and sex higher than God) or Father Phleger (he places politics higher than God), or any great number of Christian leaders.

I couldn't agree more with the cynicism this encourages. There's one response to this, naturally. If hypocrisy was localized to only those who claim to know God, or the churches they inhabit, I would find religion intolerable.

Religion isn't all bad. Billions of dollars are given to help the poor, the hurting and the needy. Languages have been saved by linguists recording previously unwritten languages. Volunteers have gone into crisis areas, tutored, become doctors in impoverished areas, fed/housed/hired the homeless, donated massive resources to pay for AIDS research, bought slaves and freed them, counseled the raped and abused. All because of their faith and some kind of organized leadership, often directly through a denomination. (aka 'religion').

People do things for all kinds of reasons - including secular, humanist and atheistic motivations, but all of the above often happens because of religion. This isn't highlighting my religion or anyone's in particular. Even if we disagree on a hundred things, all of the above are pretty good things we hopefully agree on.

Given that religion, a misleading term for those with faith-in-action, is about getting off the bench and living out someone's stated faith, I think anything else is, by default, a waste of time.

Not all religions are equal. There would be no point in claiming to be a member or believer in one if this was true. No, each believes something different. Theology is not unimportant, and some of the distinctions are unable to be overlooked. Christianity, for one, is completely incompatible with the tenets of Islam. Islam rejects Christ's resurrection, which Christianity is, in part, built upon.

A recent example of this is the students at Wheaton Academy who have not only gotten off the bench, but they have grabbed the ball and run with it.

As part of a larger segment about World Bicycle Relief, WGN TV's Ana Belaval visited Wheaton Academy, and interviewed Jennifer Lee and Ryan Seager, as well as shooting video of the campus. The piece also includes a walk students did to understand the necessity of bicycles in Zambia. Wheaton Academy's part comes in at around 2:45.

WGN could have spoken to any of many students. All have been amazingly intentional in living out what they believe. Hypocrisy? Not as I see it.


A Bridge Into the Life and Soul of a Family - review: Every Day Lasts A Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland

Every Day Lasts A Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland
A Bridge Into the Life and Soul of a Family
When I think of honesty, I think of books like C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed," about how he considered his faith after his beloved wife Joy died. The inner, intimate mind is not often recorded while under duress. In "Every Day Lasts A Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland," duress is more than processing what has already happened, but what is happening.

More than a diary, and more than a collection of letters, this book is both. It is a bridge into the life and soul of a family. While the story of the Holocaust's rupture into Jewish society is not new, each telling shows a new view. With each new view, our understanding the tragedy and magnitude is multiplied.

It is indeed a strange feeling to know how the story ends before it begins, knowing the demise of all involved. It is horrid, yet filled with hope.

The writers of the letters talk about what matters most -- each other -- and does not dwell on the news and politics. Any one of our relatives might have written these letters had this been their life. It is not easy to read, as it reminds me of a book-long eulogy. As the years go on, books such as this will be here to remind us that real people lived and died.

I fully recommend "Every Day Lasts A Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland."

Anthony Trendl


Why I Agree With Obama About Waterboarding

When it comes "moral bearings," Barack Obama is not the man I measure against. Not the man who, as president, accepts the willful killing of baby girls moments before they are born as a right. Yet, here I am in agreement with him about a moral issue - waterboarding.

My argument against waterboarding isn't its effectiveness. That's not a moral argument. That's about efficiency. What if it could be proven terrorism was deterred by this? Or that genuine, useful information could be elicited from this technique? Still wrong.

Sooner or later, if the practice continues, some poor sap will be thought of as a terrorist, tortured in the name of the state and psychologically and physically damaged for life, and then found to have an ironclad alibi, complete with video of him leading a passionate pro-American rally in a Peoria grammar school.

We have plenty of evidence that the death penalty has killed innocent people along the way.

But, that's not why. That's quality control. QC can be fixed, and only the most guilty are tortured. Still wrong.

It is wrong is because it purposefully hurting a defenseless person. If a defended person charges me with a gun, I feel comfortable stopping him. However, this is the intentional hurting of a person strapped down.

The ends to do not justify the means. No cause is so worthy as the torture of another man.

Simple as that.

Now, if only President Obama would remember Cuba and Venezuela's weak view of human rights, or the scream of a young girl just before she dies by an abortion surgeon's hand.

Human Rights Books on Amazon


Saluting Miss California: She Dared Freedom of Speech Against Intolerant Perez Hilton

Who dares speak against the mighty Perez Hilton?

Who has the gall to say what she thinks?

Who believes something so much, she would trade millions for integrity?

Miss California.

All Perez Hilton could do was name call.

As the king of sell-out, Hilton has no mind of his own. His fame is based on borrowing the fame of others.

Not Miss California's Carrie Prejean. When asked about her thoughts on gay marriage, she decided the freedom of speech was afforded even to beauty queens. Hilton was unable to tolerate this.

"I think it's great Americans are able to choose one or the other," she said. "We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what in my country, in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."

I don't know Miss Prejean, or why she holds these views, but I commend her for employing a freedom in a country afraid of freedom.


Edge of the World: Edge of Heaven: Living in One World, Citizen of Another, Edging on the Edge

Provocative title? Just words. True provocativity isn't just talk.

  1. Goatees? Dreds? Smoking ganja, just keeping it real?
  2. Long hair, ponytailed up?
  3. Speak with a slow California drawl, wearing clothes loose, with a casual undertone?
  4. Work in a homeless mission?
  5. Give 50% of income to an AIDS Clinic in Uganda?
  6. Write/speak in ebonics, uSE alTeRNAting CAPS and lowercase?

I don't know. But I don't think any of that's it.

Was exchanging e-mail with a musician friend who has a mutual appreciation of Larry Norman. He's talking about doing a cover album entirely of LN's work. He thinks this generation has missed out on all of Larry. I agree.

I said: LN's message is especially hot right now - good theology, good witness, while realizing there's a world which needs to be loved in word and action and sometimes love gets roughed up.

Why is it hot? It has never been cold.

Larry wasn't perfect. A mess. Divorced. Twice. It gets worse. Look him up. But, listen to his music too. Larry was not a man whose life equalled what God intended, but they pursued each other.

But this isn't about Larry. See some of his music below (samples of many of his songs). This is about living on the edge.

The edge isn't about sandals and a scruffy face and clothing.

It is about being real with God. No pretense. Chase Him. It isn't about a quick sign of the cross, owning 50 Bibles (all red letter), or pointing fingers at those who do. Real and pretending to be real are two very different concepts.

It is about what happens after the sign of the cross. There is a lot good that can be said about the sign of the cross, fa,iliarity with Bible translations, and goatees. They are not the edge. The edge is doing the right thing, while seeing the wrong thing talking back atcha. It is solemn. It isn't rock n roll. It isn't hymns either.

I grew up in a church that singly at full volume was not done. It was permitted, but no one did it. When I changed churches, I found music. I found hymns. I love hymns as much as I like classic rock. I am not a great fan of much of what counts as a contemporary worship. I don't mind if you do.

Abrasive is not the edge. Nor is sugary sweetness.

The church is not the edge. Nor is religion. Nor is the rejecting of either just because.

The edge. Love.

Everything else doesn't matter?

Everything else still matters. Who do you love is the question.

Love God.

St. Augustine is attributed as having said, "Love God and do what you want."

Wear a suit? A beret? Birkenstocks? I don't know. I'm still working on the first part.

Looking for the shoes? -> Birkenstock's

Larry Norman on Amazon

Larry, with his family, sings Amazing Grace. It is not representative of his musical style, but it is representative of his life.


Censoring Gambling? No Dice.

I change the radio station or TV channel whenever a gambling commercial comes on. This includes ones for the Illinois Lottery. Given that I think gambling is wrong, but that it is legal, this is my small way of rejecting it. I cannot stop it so long as people are willing to gamble, and companies are willing to take their money.

Why do I hate gambling? Sure, maybe the frumpy 60-something woman who goes with her gal pals to a floating casino is not going to have addiction issue, but there are plenty who do. Has anyone, once gambling has existed in a community for years, pointed at it and said, "Oh my, now there's an area I want to raise my children?" Has a casino ever moved into a posh suburb? No.

The point is not my reasons, as they are my reasons, and you are still free to do as you like. I won't stop you. But, if you are like my, turn the radio to another station, and let the station with gambling ads know what you're doing.


Susan Boyle - Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009

Looking for the video? Yep. That video.

Amazing, isn't she?

If we would only see this on American Idol, I might watch more often.


Need a Job? I Can Help.

Job Letters for Executives

As a writer who has counseled CEOs, CIOs, executive VPs, as well as directors and managers in proper communications, I realized I have a valuable service to offer in this complex economy.

Check out the link, contact me through my website if interested.


He's Alive - Don and Wendy Francisco, Live - video

He's Alive - Don and Wendy Francisco, Live - video
Don explains briefly how he wrote this classic. Guitar with full choir.


The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound
half in hopeless sorrow and half in fear the day
would find the soldiers breaking through to drag us all away

and just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall
the gate began to rattle and a voice began to call
I hurried to the window and looked down into the street
expecting swords and torches and the sound of soldiers feet

there was no one there but marry so I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me as she told us where she'd been
she said they've moved him in the night and none of us knows where
the stone's been rolled away and now his body isn't there

we both ran t'ward the garden and then John ran on ahead
we found the stone and the empty tomb just the way that marry said
but the winding sheet they wrapped him in was just an empty shell
and how or where they'd taken him was more than I could tell

something strange had happened there just what I didn't know
John believed a miracle but I just turned to go
circumstance and speculation didn't lift me very high
'cause I’d seen them crucify him, and then I saw him die

back inside the house again the guilt and anguish came
everything I’d promised him just added to my shame
when at last it came to choices I denied I knew his name
and even if He was alive, it wouldn't be the same

suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume
light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room
Jesus stood before me with his arms held open wide
and I fell down on my knees and I just clung to him and cried

He raised me to my feet and as I looked into his eyes
love was shining out from them like sunlight from the skies
guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release
and every fear I’d every had just melted into peace

He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven's gates are opened wide

(repeat chorus two more times)

He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive . . . He’s alive


Amazing Grace - Az Úr Irgalma Végtelen - English and Hungarian - video

Amazing Grace - Az Úr Irgalma Végtelen - English and Hungarian - video

Hear praise and thanks sung in two languages. Two girls sing in what seems to be a small church in Hungary.

Listen/watch the other Amazing Grace renditions I have posted.

Tags: Tóalmás summer camp nyári tábor élet szava word of life worship dicsőítés amazing grace


Where Would I Be Without You? - video


All darkness is no more.

Song by Gene Eugene. "I Remember You." Powerful.

I Remember You

Ladysmith Mambazo sing Amazing Grace (South Africa)

Ladysmith Mambazo sing Amazing Grace (South Africa)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a Grammy Award winning, South African a cappella singing group.

Given the origination of the song was the response of a man convicted by God that grace alone saved him, and that his sins were so awful, that he did not deserve God, and that among those sins was the kidnapping and enslaving of men and women from Africa, this version takes on a complex layer. Toss on top of this that these singers are Africans from South Africa, a country with a horrible history of racism. Yet, they sing of God's grace. They get it.

(slightly different version with Paul Simon)
Amazing Grace (2006 Remastered Album Version)


Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck play Amazing Grace - video

Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck Amazing Grace
A choir hums the song in the background.

Listen/watch the other Amazing Grace renditions I have posted.

Category: Music
Tags: santana carlos amazing grace peace universe earth


Kraig Kenning Plays Amazing Grace - Slide Guitar - video

Kraig Kenning plays Amazing Grace - Slide Guitar

Great close-ups of the slidin' n' pickin' as he plays both sides of the guitar. Kenning makes it look all so simple. Listen to Hippie Jack, and find out why he is properly named.

Listen/watch the other Amazing Grace renditions I have posted.

Kraig Kenning plays Amazing Grace on the Jammin with Hippie Jack show.
Category: Music

Tags: kraig Kenning Hippie Jack Amazing Grace Dobro Slide Guitar


Tea Fans Unite - Reviews and Thoughts on Tea (with Alfred Hitchcock video)

The 39 Steeps: Adventures in Tea

Good friend Steven Knoerr is my tea teacher. I rarely drink the stuff, but when I need to be in the know, I call him. He has started a tea blog packed with reviews of teas and tea sellers, as well as thoughts on plantations, culture, and the related products.

Read up on oolong, peek in on pekoe, and ponder puerh.


As you might guess, his blog makes a reference to Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie, The 39 Steps (Criterion Collection Spine #56). Any Hitchcock movie is a worthy watch, and buying through my blog helps offset the downturn of the economy (mine, of course). Yes, that's a plea to click through the ads. Don't be shy. You can do it.

The 39 Steps (Criterion Collection Spine #56)


Word:Word Goes Global - Join the Fun

Word:Word - A Game of Relationship

For my friends, and their friends, and their pet dog's friends, I have started a new group for playing Word:Word. It is a simple wordplay game that builds on word relationships. What's fun is when one player turns the word into a new direction through homonyms, synonyms, opposite meanings, or strange, yet obvious relationships. Join up, read what others are thinking.


I have posted the game as a thread on a discussion board at Amazon.com, and it amassed something like 500+ posts within a few days. Around 1,000 posts so far for each in what was just intended to be a silly little game.

This is the same game. However, both are hard to find - the Amazon one is hardly exclusive, but few know it exists. Usually, it is populated by book readers who have a strange compulsion to tell others what they think about the book. A great group.

My Facebook thread was just the result of my blog (this blog you are reading) feeding in to Facebook through its Notes feature. Strangely, my blog post, in the context of the blog, went unnoticed. Facebook, though, is great connector of all people.

Anyway, starting the group will helps you word addicts keep in vowels and consonants.

Incidentally, the group presently playing is a very interesting array of otherwise unconnected friends, stemming from Bloomington, to online-only friends, to various portions of my Chicago-area life. They might click on each other's profiles, or not -- but I smile, realizing the context behind certain word choices, unknown to the other players.