Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

12/28/12

Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin Kennedy Center Tribute. Amazing!

Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin Kennedy Center Tribute. Amazing! Heart -- Ann and Nancy Wilson. Jason Bonham drums. Best cover ever.

The choir even is wearing bowlers like Zep's late drummer John Bonham. Robert Plant gets teary eyed. President and Mrs. Obama tried to remain composed.

 

12/26/12

Apology Not Accepted: Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, and A Pastor’s Apology.


John Pavlovitz, self-appointed leader of the Evangelical Church (in all its permutations, including parachurch ministries), has apologized for me. For you, too, if you happen to be a Christian. Take a look at his blog post, Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, and A Pastor’s Apology.

I am not sure how he got the job. I voted in November for President of the United States, but never saw his name on the ballot. Maybe because he has a blog. No, no. That can't be it. I have a blog. I'm not in charge.

I'm looking more carefully at his post. Yes. Silly me. I see it right there at the top: "I am a Christian. I am a pastor. I am a father. As all three of these things, I apologize to the world (and to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting), for Mike Huckabee and James Dobson."

Because he is a Christian, a pastor and a father, he has earned the right to apologize to the world, on my behalf, for things said by Mike Huckabee and James Dobson. I see. I see. It is clear.

I get Pavlovitz's point. People I am affiliated with say things I disagree with. It might be he was asked by Dobson and Huckabee each to apologize on their behalf. That can happen. I suppose. But it didn't. Back to word self-appointed.

This is not a blog post getting into what Pavlovitz thinks he is addressing. Rather, I am using his claim to apologize to point that, in his attempt, he, in my opinion, dismisses the depth and importance of the issues, and disrespects the families hurt or killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

By apologizing for something he didn’t do is disingenuous and arrogant. It is as if he has the right to apologize by proxy, somehow representing Christians. He does not have it. There is no position to do so. Only God could, and He never sins, so that would not happen. The evangelical world, which includes both Dobson and Huckabee, is not a cleanly drawn line, with a leader telling followers what to believe. There are many denominations, and many diverse viewpoints.

Just as I cannot, on the behalf of white people, apologize for the KKK, slavery and other racist actions, he simply does not have the right or responsibility, creating only a hollowness that is as meaningless in direct opposition to what I think he intended. These kinds of blanket apologies injure the genuinely hurt by putting a Hallmark Card spin on a very serious matter.

When President Clinton apologized for various things the American government did to Africans here in the 1930-1970s involving syphilis testing, no one took it as a real apology. It was, at best, symbolic. Genuine? I think so. Heart felt? I think so.

Wikipedia says: "The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government."

What President Clinton said: The United States Government did something that was wrong, deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. We can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people what the United States Government did was shameful, and I am sorry.

I agree 100% with President Clinton on this. He was saying to the nation, "I, as leader of this nation, and part of a long line of presidents to be followed by others, and therefore as a representative and spokesperson for the nation, want all of America and the world to know such testing is wrong, was wrong and always will be wrong. I cannot undo what was done, but I can say we will never do it again." Those are my words, but that's my take on what President Clinton said.

But it was not an apology. Clinton had not done the wrong himself.  Had he skipped, "I am sorry," at the end, and no one would call it an apology. They'd just say, "Right on, Mr. President." But, Clinton was President. What the American government did was wrong. He tried, did so publicly, and outside of those three words, it was a perfect statement.

I have no idea who John Pavlovitz is. I know he said in response to things Dobson and Huckabee have said, "This week, these “representatives” of Christianity in the American media, have done what they seem bent on doing and content to do in times of tragedy; they have stood on top of someone else’s pain and grief, while preaching a message of dreadfully misplaced, fear-infused hatred and horribly dangerous theology."

Which exactly what he has done.


12/24/12

Why I Celebrate Christmas

As I posted in my official Facebook page:


Christmas celebrates the beginning of the most amazing human to ever walk this Earth. Jesus Christ is not a tale or a legend, not a cute story about a baby in a manger, but the most dangerous person from Herod's perspective, someone to be worshiped from the shepherds' perspective, someone to be loved from Mary and Joseph's perspective, and Lord, God and King, from my perspective. 

Enjoy this Christmas season, love your neighbors as yourself, and, when you sing a glorious carol, think about what Jesus did some 33 years later.

12/21/12

An End of Everything: An Eerie Tale About NonExistence

Tree Fort BooksOK. Here I am. 

Midnight. December 21, 2012. It just turned Friday.

Didn't see this coming.

Uh oh.

I need to make some changes. I have entire tomorrow to plan, though here we are. It is tomorrow. There wasn't supposed to be one. Tomorrow was supposed to... hmm. This all gets kind of messy as verb tenses go. Either, I was not expecting to be here. The Mayans did some bad math. Or did I?

Some apologies. Lots of apologies. Though, then again, I think I will be hearing a few as well. You know, from that one guy and his friend, and their cousin. Definitely the cousin.

And, yeah, that thing that happened I thought no one would ever find out about? They probably will. That will take some explaining.

Looks like there will be a little credit card problem later today when the banks open. That is not going to look good. I need to stop by the luxury auto place and see if they will take back a customized Lamborghini.

Not to worry. It's not like its the end of the world. Yeah, I heard that before. Ha!

Those silly people talking about the end of the world. Can you believe that people actually bought into it. Just like this. Here I am, right after midnight. I'm here. You're here. Everyone is here. Wherever they were at 11:59 pm, Wednesday, December 20, they are still there. Same place. Same everything.

Just like we have always been and always will be, give or take a billion years and the sun exploding.

It is late, I'm tired.

Um, what was that sound? Yes, that sound. The crack. The loud, eerie, crushing crack. A branch? No, no. Deeper than a branch. A truck crash? Not that. I saw one once. Not as eerie. This crack echoed, but it was a backwards echo. The sound consumed itself.

It is still cracking. How can that be? Cracks end. Things are supposed to break. Is this an earthquake? I can't tell. The lights are off. There is no other sound. Just the crack.

Where is everyone? Streetlights gone. Must be a power outage. The sound? Should the earth move? I live in Chicago. Earthquakes don't happen here. The earth must. The quaking part.

Where's the moon? There is no moon. It must be cloudy. I don't see any stars. There must be clouds. I don't see anything. No clouds. No sky. I don't even see the neighbors house.

It must be a huge storm. It can't be a storm. There is no wind. No rain. Things are dry. Completely dry. No, I don't feel anything. Where's my bed? I was in my bed. I think. Or am downstairs?

The crack is gone. It stopped. I hear nothing. Nothing at all. The heat is off. The fridge too. Of course. The power is out. Right. Those are off. I got it. Shouldn't I hear something? The building is always settling. No traffic outside. No airplanes. Quiet night. Everyone must be in. But I don't even hear my clothes when I move. Did I move? Of course I am moving. But I'm not moving. I'm sitting still. Or am I standing?

This blackness. It causes vertigo. I never had it before. This must be what blind people go through, seeing nothing at all. Deaf people too.

It is so dark. No, dark is not the word. It is too dark for that. I can't even see what I'm thinking.

I'm thirsty. I think I'm thirsty. Or hungry. No I'm not. I'm not at all. I'm not. I just no longer am.

I'm not.


For silly tales, please visit http://TreeFortBooks.com

12/19/12

Rosati's Pizza and Gambling: Finding Better Pizza with Social Responsibility

Rosati's Pizza Twitter Post about Their New Video Gambling Machine 
Proudly announcing their video gambling machine, complete with a how-to video on YouTube embedded in, Rosati's Pizza lost my business. 

I will not knowingly support a business directly encouraging this kind of gambling. Yes, I shop where lottery tickets are sold, and despise that I must. As pizza goes, I have plenty of alternatives.

See the original Tweet for yourself. They have blocked me (apparently not happy that I pointed out that Nancy's Pizza tastes better and is less salty than Rosati's Pizza), but I am glad to post the link here, encouraging free speech. Let me know if they take it down. 

The machine is in their Yorkville, IL store. I used to buy from their Wheaton, IL store. Yorkville's decision impacted the Wheaton store's business. 

For those of you outside of Chicago, Rosati's Pizza is a basic Chicago-style pizza. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-style_pizza#Thin-crust_pizza):
There is also a style of thin-crust pizza found in Chicago and throughout the rest of the Midwestern USA. The crust is thin and firm enough to have a noticeable crunch, unlike a New York-style pizza. 
The crust is topped with a liberal quantity of Italian style tomato sauce, which usually has quite a lot of herbs or is highly spiced, and typically contains no visible chunks of tomato. Next, a layer of toppings is added, and finally a layer of mozzarella cheese. This pizza is cut into squares, also known as party cut or tavern cut, as opposed to a pie cut into wedges. However, the consistency of the crust and the quantity and choice of the tomato sauce and cheese are what separate this style from East Coast- and Roman-style pizzas, and it makes the pizza from most neighborhood pizzerias immediately distinguishable from that offered by national chains such as Papa John's or Pizza Hut. Aurelios is a chain which specializes in this kind of pizza. Casa Bianca, located in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles, is also well known for this style of thin-crusted Chicago bar pizza.


I have had it delivered for many years, but now, as I am against gambling, am no longer willing to buy from them.

It is a free country. They are doing nothing illegal. In fact, as their post says clearly, they have a license to do this, issued by the State of Illinois. The fact that it is legal does not mean I should support a business doing something I despise. 

My community matters more to me than my pizza choice. And, as it turns out, we have several other excellent pizza choices. 

Why don't I like gambling? Plainly, I think it hurts communities in proportion to how much gambling there is. More importantly, it hurts people. I won't labor on about my reasons, but the short version is that communities are never bettered from the addition of opportunities to gamble. You can see the definition of problem gambling below, but I also think there is a larger negative social impact. Sure, not everyone who gambles will become a compulsive gambler, and one video machine may not cause anyone to struggle.  

I also know many of my readers may be enthusiastic gamblers without any issues of addiction and are not involved in any aspect of gambling culture that is a social concern. I'm not denying your right, or Rosati's Pizza's right. I am merely explaining that Rosati's Pizza's decision nauseates me. Why would I want to purchase food from a place that equates vomit in my mind? I don't. 

What is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological", or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, "chasing" losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

12/17/12

More Love, Less Politics: The Sandy Hook Tragedy



Already, what happened in Connecticut has become political. More guns. Fewer guns. More God in school. Less God in school. Meaningless online petitions. Impassioned Facebook posts which exact some strong emotion and a dozen like-minded responses, or a new profile picture with a candle. Nice. 

Sympathetically, our nation weeps. Our President Obama has capably stepped in as he would in any major tragedy, to offer comfort. Our churches cry out across the nation. We need to wrap our heads and hearts around this, yet know we cannot. It is too big, but we must try. 

Meanwhile, the people immediately around us need our love, not our politics. They need us to call them, to ask them how they are, to invite them for dinner, or to just sit quietly over coffee or wine.

It is easy to join the water cooler soldiers for righteousness. I live in Illinois and have no connection to the Connecticut tragedy. I cannot make a difference there. Some of you actually can. You know those directly impacted. But here, hundreds of miles away, who can I love?

That said, of course everyone killed breaks my heart, including the gunman himself. Which life didn't God love? Did He love the children more than the adults? Did He love the killer more than the killed or less? 

Our neighbors, who we should love, go through big and large sufferings daily. The suffering elderly, the scared unwed mom, the inmate lonely in jail, the hungry, the cold, the unclothed, the guy who lost his job, the high school kid whose girlfriend just dumped him for another guy - it goes on, and God so, so ... so loved the world that He gave us His son. He loved us 2,000 years ago and loves us, them... we, today and tomorrow. May the tragedy at Sandy Hook not outshine our need to love our neighbor.

It is harder to love our neighbor as yourself. Atheists as well as believers in any deity should understand this. I'm not going to convince the atheist that my Lord is real, nor do I care that they think my beliefs are misguided. That's a wholly different discussion. I do hope anyone reading this, though, looks directly to the east, west, south and north of their home, cubicle, train commute, grocery store line or coffee shop table and asks if there is something they can do to love their neighbor.

Maybe you have no idea how. Fair enough. Try asking about them. Listen. Then be ready to respond. Love might take the cost of dinner, but it might just take a half hour hearing their heart, or, maybe, just talking about something seemingly trite, like the Chicago Bears' awful season. Maybe it takes investment, like calling them next week too.

More love, less politics. 

12/13/12

FREE! My strangest tale ever!

FREE! My strangest tale ever! Escape from Hicklebirkle Manor.

Chucky the Cat, rat couple Edgar and Veronica, and Mason the Turtle all live happily until Old Man dies. When Chucky the Cat eats Veronica, trouble begins. Can they escape the house where they are trapped?

For Kindle.

12/11/12

Storytelling This Friday in Geneva, IL and 3 FREE Tales


My latest big announcement is ready (http://x.co/qXIv). Besides news about me telling tales to youngsters this Friday (free), there are social media links, freebies and more.

I explain the correlation between storytelling and speech writing, and am giving away three Kindle tales (one for the next three days). Today's freebie is "How Wind Began: The Story of Pepper Jack: A Bluster County Tale."

I invite readers to enjoy the tales with their children (or on their commute -- I won't tell). Publishers and agents, see what I can do. Book reviewers, please consider reviewing on Amazon. As always, if you need a speechwriter for your next event, please contact me.

The link takes you to the email with the free books (through GoDaddy).

http://x.co/qXIv


Free - Storytelling - Ages 4-8 (all ages welcome)
Classic and original tales.
Friday, December 14 

Two tellings (each will be the same)
10:00-10:30/11:00 am
2:00-2:30/3:00 pm
RSVP on Facebook 
Barnes and Noble (in Geneva Commons)
102 Commons Drive
Geneva, IL 60134
Directions