August 01, 2012

So, like you, I've been spending time today reading everyone's opinions about Chick-Fil-A on Facebook and Twitter instead of you know, doing something productive. I didn't eat at Chick-Fil-A today because I don't like to wait an hour in line for anything that doesn't have a roller-coaster at the end. As I read endless status updates and tweets, I became more and more frustrated. I felt like I needed to get some thoughts out, but I didn't want to clog anyone's news feed with another opinion on the matter. This way, you can read on, or go do something, you know, productive. I'm not now, nor have I ever been gay. I am happily married to a beautiful, intelligent, straight woman. I can honestly say that I used to be fairly "homophobic." I think that term is a misnomer, though, because I was never scared of gay people, it just kind of grossed me out. I can honestly say now that I'm quite a bit more open minded about the whole issue. I have a few good friends who are gay, and their commitment to each other despite it being a "non-traditional" lifestyle is actually very commendable. Let me start by saying, that I believe, unequivocally, that homosexuality is sinful. That does not mean that I hate homosexuals. There are many things that I do daily that are sinful, and I like myself, probably too much--another sin. I feel that this entire Chick-Fil-A episode has caused many people to use the word hate, when there are other words that would be more appropriate. I think this points to an issue that is also much, much bigger than a restaurant or homosexuality. When did the public make up our communal mind that supporting one thing meant you had to hate the other? I support the Dallas Cowboys. That does not mean I hate the Jacksonville Jaguars. I support equal voting rights for African-Americans. That does not mean I hate white people. I ate Italian food at lunch today. That does not mean I hate Asian food, or Asians for that matter. People that say that Dan Cathy, or Chick-Fil-A, hates gay people because he said he supports "the Biblical definition of marriage" are completely shortsided. If he had said, "You know, I really hate gay people," that would be reason to get upset. Without being too dramatic, this is what's wrong with our country. There's no middle ground anymore. There's no compromise. Liking, or supporting one thing, does not mean one hates the opposite. I've never really believed in boycotting as a way to make a point, mostly because I feel that the company being boycotted rarely feels the impact. Abercrombie and Fitch came to Amarillo for a while. It was boycotted because of scandalous catalogues and whatnot, and eventually left. Victory won, right Amarillo? The last time I checked Abercrombie was still in business, even as close as our step-sister to the south, Lubbock. Well, at least it's not in our town. That's what people would say, but the executives at Abercrombie couldn't care less. All that to say, "Gays, if you are boycotting Chick-Fil-A, fine, but don't expect it to change anything." I feel like your efforts might be better served elsewhere, like I don't know, maybe lobbying for political change, or maybe spending time with the people you choose to love. Now on to what is really frustrating. Christians. Let's examine where that name comes from--hmmmm, Christ, maybe? All you Christ followers should look down at your wrists and ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do?" What did you prove today by eating at Chick-Fil-A? All you did was make a large group of people feel like you hate them. I'm not saying you do, but deductive reasoning would say that if they feel like a restaurant hates them, and then you support that restaurant, you hate them as well. I'm not saying it's logical or correct, but it's the message you put across when you puff up your chest and brag about eating some chicken. For some reason, I feel like Jesus would not have spent today waiting in lines to eat a chicken sandwich. I really feel that he would have probably been taking food to an outcast, hurting group of people (maybe even gay people.) I talked with a good friend the other night who told me that he was brought up to hate the sin and love the sinner, but that he hoped he has learned to hate his own sin worse than any other. I pray that I can learn that, too. You did not win any victories today, Christians, by eating at a fast food restaurant. Victory would have been sharing Jesus' love to someone who might make you uncomfortable. I hope I did that at some point today. Let me say briefly how I feel about gay marriage. I think being gay is a sin. I don't think getting married to someone of the same sex is. I also don't think it is the government's job to regulate on moral issues. I think homosexuals should have the exact same rights as I do, just as I feel alocholics, liars, and gossipers should. When did we all become so righteous, as to place judgement on what others can and can't do? I'm not God. I don't want to be God. I'd like to be more like Jesus, and I think he might be watching us wondering why we can't live by his most simple command, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

July 27, 2010

Love Story, Pt. 2

Two weeks later...New Year's Eve, 2000...We both attended a progressive party that evening starting at our friend Sarah's house and ending at our friend Emily's house. I remember seeing her at Sarah's, and I remember remembering her from the Logan's parking lot. I led in with probably the cheesiest line about how I would dance with her on the beach in the headlights of my Jeep ala Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell. I still don't know why, but it worked. We talked off and on through the party, but I didn't "make my move" until later in the night.

"Would it be okay if I took you out sometime?"--Matt

"Of course."--Jenny

"Oh man, oh man, oh man, yeah, yeah, wow, she's really hot, oh man, don't mess this up."--Matt's Insides

I'll never forget the little yellow napkin she wrote her number on for me. It had her name, a smiley face, and those great seven numbers: 867-5309. Wait...nevermind. Now, I'm generally a believer in the two-three day rule for calling a girl so you don't look desperate, but I was ready to call later that night. I think I held off for 34 1/2 hours before I caved to the yellow napkin. We were set for date number 1 on Friday night. Now, I had to plan.

It was the kind of first date you dream of. The conversation never hit a lull, and it was a great time. I knew when she said she wanted to see "Dude, Where's My Car?" that this was the start of something special. And it was. For the next five months or so, we were pretty much inseparable. I'm sure that her mom often grew tired of this 18 year old kid hanging at her apartment every single day, but I couldn't get enough time with Jenny. It seemed as if nothing could bring us down to reality.

Going off to college has a way of bringing you down to reality, doesn't it? The only sad part of this story happened a couple of weeks after graduation in the summer of 2001. It was time to put high school behind us and look forward to the things to come. We weren't meant to be a part of each other's college experience. Well, the first two years of college anyway.

Don't be sad. It all comes full circle in the end. Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon.

July 15, 2010

Love Story Pt. 1

This past weekend Jenny and I took a road trip down memory lane. We started in Lubbock, drove through Abilene, and ended with a "visit" with her dad. While in Abilene we shelled out 16 bucks to watch "Date Night" in our hotel room. Good movie, but we'll save the critique for next time. A couple of times in the movie, the two main characters, while at dinner, point out other couples and ponder as to what their story is. Not only have Jenny and I done that ourselves, but I feel that we have a pretty cool story. I thought this might be the perfect place to put it in writing. Get your tissues ready. Sit back. Relax. Settle in. Come join me as I drive back down memory lane one more time.

My pursuit of Jenny started before I had ever met her. You see, when I was a younger lad, my mom would have a young lady named Dawn babysit me and my sisters. This started when I was in elementary school, and as I grew, we became more friends, and less babysitter--babysittee, if you will. I don't think I ever really had a crush on Dawn (she was more like an older sister), but I knew that I wanted to date girls that were like her--pretty, smart, funny, etc. The first time I met Jenny, I knew she had all those qualities.

Actually the first time I met Jenny, I had no clue what I was doing. I think it was sometime in middle school, and my family was going to a show at the Amarillo Little Theatre--Oliver, I think. I remember watching the show just like any other middle school boy would watch a musical theatre production (read: trying to stay awake), but then I was struck by a young red-headed actress in the show. I looked her up in the program, and read her name--Jenny Bulla. I made a point to talk to her after the show, but I think all I could manage was "you were really good." Apes have had more charm.

Fast forward to the year 2000 and the second "first" time I met Jenny. I was out with a girl I grew up with on a date/non-date type of thing. We met up with a group of people at Logan's Roadhouse, this new swinging place where you could throw peanut shells on the ground. The group eventually dwindled to three, myself, my date/non-date, and Jenny. As we stood at my truck talking, I started to take notice of Jenny. She was obviously pretty, and Frank Sinatra would have called her red hair "Witchcraft," I do believe. She was smart, funny, witty, down to earth, laid back, and pretty, really pretty. She sucked me in like a tractor beam. She didn't know it, but she now had a new stalker...or friend...whatever.

That's the end of part one. Tune in next time for part 2.

June 10, 2010

I've Got a Song in My Heart

Dear Blogspot,

I was a little heavy with you last time we spoke, so I decided that today, I will lighten things up a bit with another list. I hope you don't mind. I don't think you will when I unveil the topic. Oh Blogspot, you've been so good to me thus far. I will now reward you with a list of 10 songs that I will drive around the block to finish if I am in the car at the time when said song is on the radio (with videos, of course.)

#10--Too Much Time on My Hands--Styx. I believe the quote from Big Daddy sums it up best. Styx is the greatest rock band ever, and they only got a bad rap because most critics are just cynical a-holes.

#9--Jesse's Girl--Rick Springfield. This one, I mean, I don't even have to ask. So much jealousy, angst, and "talkin' cute", how do you not love this song?

#8--Rosanna--Toto. I will actually stay in the car for any Toto song, but this one in particular is at a new level. Please notice the following things in this video: awesome aviator shades, the top pony-tail, and more chain-link fence than you can shake a stick at.

#7--Jenny/867-5309--Tommy Tutone. Forget the fact that my wife's name is Jenny. Forget the fact that this guy got this girl's number off the bathroom wall. Forget that I've actually tried to dial this number. Just enjoy the faux-fro hairdos.

#6--Boys of Summer--Don Henley. It just parallels all of the movies from the 80s. Guy wants girl. Girl leaves guy. Guy wants girl back. Pledges undying love. It's like middle school wrapped up in Don Henley's silky-smooth voice. The video is almost as homo-erotic as the volleyball scene in Top Gun.

#5--You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling--The Righteous Brothers. If you know me, you know. Top Gun, classic melody, uncomfortably high notes at the end. It's all in one.

#4--To Be With You--Mr. Big. A staple 80s hit. I think the video and audio are a bit off on this video, so just close your eyes, and let it take you there.

#3--Wonderwall--Oasis. One of my favorite songs ever. Enjoy.

#2--Its So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday--Boyz II Men. Why will I stay until the end? Because the best guy is the last one, that's why.

#1--Jukebox Hero--Foreigner. This song is like a dream to every kid that ever wanted to be a rock star, and let's be honest, that's just every kid. If you've ever walked into a guitar store and seen the shiny electric guitars hanging on the wall and not pictured yourself with golden angel wings singing lead for Lynyrd Skynyrd, well, you haven't really lived, have you?

June 07, 2010

The Best Offense...A Good Defense?

Recently I've noticed more and more negativity toward people of faith. I happen to follow Christ and his teachings, but this cynical, pessimistic view of religion is extending far beyond Christianity. A Facebook status I read recently had a comment where a self-professed agnostic stated that "religion was a crutch" that was used by people who were not mentally strong enough to handle life on their own (paraphrase). I took offense to this statement, and honestly, it made me angry.

This feeling and response made me question when it is appropriate to defend not only my faith, but the rights of anyone who falls under the "religion" umbrella. I did not comment on the FB thread because my attitude was not in love and respect, but instead in anger and for the sake of an argument. I realize that it is important to defend faith whenever we are directly persecuted, but how do you defend against a generally negative attitude toward all religion?

I generally do not like using churchy cliches and sayings, but I have kept coming back to the argument that my beliefs are, for lack of a better phrase, about a relationship, not religion. The person who stated that religion is a crutch could probably be right, but I have realized through this past week, that I no more use Christ as a crutch than I use any other good friend or family member as a crutch. Just as I would rely on a close friend or a family member during tough times, I know, although more significantly, that I can rely on Christ. And just as I would celebrate positive life events with a good friend or family member, I can do the same with Christ. If this means that I am using my religion as a crutch, I suppose I am also using my friends and family as "crutches." True, I also believe that Christ died for my sins and rose again and therefore gave me the opportunity to have eternal life, but I don't feel that believing this makes me mentally weak.

On the contrary, I believe having faith in something makes me mentally stronger. It is easy to doubt everything. It is easy to be pessimistic as the negative slant is often more apparent than the positive one. I don't feel it's okay to bash anyone for what they believe. I may think that those who do not follow Jesus are wrong, but I would never call them weak-minded, or say that they are using Islam or Buddhism or atheism as a crutch. I'm not okay with the fact that it is acceptable to put Christianity down as "for the weak." My hope today rests in the fact that He that is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

May 03, 2010

Mondays with Nana

I've heard there are only two constants in life--death and taxes. Although pessimistic, that statement is fairly accurate. I think for a believer, there are a few more constants (i.e. God, scripture, etc.), but I have one in my life that is shared by a very privileged few--Monday lunch with Nana.

Let me tell you a little about my Nana. She's my dad's mom, and she's flat out wonderful. She was married to my Papa (pronounced Paw-Paw) for 49 years before he passed away. I always looked to them, and my other grandparents for that matter, as a model of consistency and integrity in marriage. Even after decades of marriage, it was painfully obvious how in love they were. Nana has always been an integral part of our family, and she does well now to balance the time she spends with myself and my sisters, and her other granddaughter who lives in Las Vegas with my aunt and uncle.

For almost seven years, Nana has been cooking lunch every Monday for me, my dad, and my step-mom, Julie. There have been other guests as well. My sisters, step-brother and step-sister, and my wife have all dined on Monday. My sister and I both have brought friends to the exclusive club. For two and a half years, while I worked at Boys Ranch, it was just for my dad and step-mom, but Nana has remained constant. Always unflappable, but always self-criticizing, Nana has continued to put delicious food in our stomachs every Monday for the better part of a decade. Her apologies are constant as well as she always finds something slightly imperfect in her cooking. As consistent as her apologies, though, are our lack of complaints.

It has been a blessing for me to grow up in a town with both sets of my grandparents. As time passes, I strive to remain daily grateful to all of them. When Papa passed away, I realized that I'm not going to have them forever, but I rest easy in the thought that I will have them forever eventually.

April 27, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

Recently I've begun thinking that I have much to share with the world. Often I feel the need to write, and I don't think I can pull off owning a journal. I thought I'd give this a try, but every time I started to do it, I would lose any semblance of an interesting topic to write about. I decided to default to what I do best--lists. For my first topic I will tackle 5 movies that would be considered my "guilty pleasures."

Number 5--Grease

I can't help it. Somehow me and Grease, well, we go together. I watched this movie countless times as a child, and now that I understand everything that they talk about, I can't believe my parents let me watch it.

Number 4--Three Ninjas

This movie made me crack up when I was younger, but if I found it on TV today, I'd watch the whole thing.

Number 3--Rocky IV

I realize the acting is terrible. I realize that Stallone should have stopped after Rocky II. I realize Dolph Lundgren really was on steroids. I realize that Brigitte Nielson is Flava Flav's true love. But if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.

Number 2--Sister Act 2

Only the greatest sequel of all time. I remember singing along to the CD in middle school with my sisters. I'm not an expert, but this movie is, without a doubt, Whoopi's crowning achievement.

Number 1--Bloodsport

Jean Claude Van Damme. The greatest actor of this generation.