On my to-do list: re-listen to Terry Gross’ interview with Paul Schrader and Ethan Hawke about “First Reformed”


Probably a month ago, I heard bits and pieces of the NPR show Fresh Air. It was an interview with Filmmaker Paul Schrader and actor Ethan Hawke about a movie Schrader wrote and directed called “First Reformed.” You can listen to it here.

You’d know Schrader from the movies he wrote: “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull.” He also wrote the script for “The Last Temptation of Christ,” one of my favorite books and movies.

Schrader has reached 70 years and decided that after a long career of purposefully staying away from the topic of religion, it was time to maybe pursue it.

Apparently Schrader and I share some similarities. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, deep in the heart of the Dutch Reformed Church. My dad is a Dutchman, immigrated to Grand Rapids as a teen and comes from the reformed tradition. My mom grew up in Grand Rapids as well.

We all had very religious upbringings.  Continue reading

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They say your media diet says a lot about you … Well … damn.


This past week has been dedicated to photo editing. Between a 50mp camera and a 40mp camera, save times can range from 3 to 8 minutes, and my computer is not slow. It gives me time to blaze through different websites for stories.

Keeping up with all the fake news in the world can become a time suck. Here are just a handful of stories that have had my attention over the past few days.

The thrill of abandon


In a little bar in New York City back in 2012, our friends Becky and Luis sat with Tina and I over a couple of drinks and we discussed a dream possibility of staying at their friend’s farm house in the Loire Valley of France. They said the farm house was offered up for stay at next-to-nothing rates.

Becky and Luis brought it up.

T & I latched on like leaches.

It was one of those discussions that usually turn into a whole lot of nothing. The home was owned by their friend’s family.

Tina and I didn’t let it go. And we reached out to the couple and asked a few times, “Do you think we could really stay in that farm house?”

Between 2008 and 2012, Tina and I didn’t travel much. But that trip triggered a full-on travel bug infection.  Continue reading

Who is this Kent Dobson …


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Kent Dobson Photo by Ted Bingham 

I talked to my brother the other day on the phone and he recommended that I take a listen to comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast recorded with a guy named Kent Dobson. You can listen to it here.

In a nutshell, Kent Dobson is a friend of Rob Bell’s, the controversial pastor who lead Mars Hill church to mega-churchdom. Bell later removed hell from his personal views, maybe even heaven, and concentrated on the here and now. His blasphemy cost him his pastorship.

I read about Bell long after I had left faith. Hell was one of the first things I was able to let go of as being biblically unsound. So reading him was a little boring. Bell was late to the party.

From what I understand, Kent Dobson took over the church after Rob Bell was basically pushed out. Dobson also flew the evangelical nest and stripped lots of dogma from his perspective.

 

From listening to this podcast, his perspective(s) is/are hardly unique.  I wished that when I was going through my own period of stripping off the dirty, wet clothing of evangelical Christianity, that I could have known more people like Kent, Pete, or anyone else who is able to leave the ideas of our youth.
Continue reading

The tragedy of celebration


In 2006, Tina’s dad made an announcement. Not just any announcement.

He announced he had cancer.

Not just any cancer. Stomach cancer.

Not just any stage cancer. Stage 4 borderline stage 5 cancer.

This was not just any announcement. An “I’ve got so long to live” announcement. “Let’s do things. Let’s reconnect. Let’s make up for lost time.”

The distance from the announcement to his death was short. At most, eight months. He attacked it with every ounce of strength he had. He tried keeping up his active lifestyle of rollerblading in his Florida neighborhood. He tried to keep dating a woman he’d been on and off again for a few years.

We saw him for a weekend that fall. His mom, Tina’s grandma, passed away in October. He flew up to the funeral. We talked to him. His hair was gone. But he felt okay. His feet felt heavy, like “concrete” he said, so he was buying tons of shoes to comfort the feeling.

Back in Florida, he was far from all of us Chicago relatives. While the sun and warmth were probably good for his soul and his attitude, he was alone down there. He had to drive himself to doctor’s appointments and treatments. He was a proud man, and didn’t want to bother his girlfriend. He started taking cabs to the doctor. He took cabs to chemo. He needed help.

His health nosedived toward Christmas. His brother ended up driving down to get him around the holiday with hopes he could help alleviate some of the ease of doctor visits and cancer treatments. But it was really to have him near his brothers, Tina and the rest of the family when he died.  Continue reading