Don’t be weird

Don’t be weird January 2, 2012

Pastor asked this morning how many of us over 50 expected to live to see 2012. Uh.. me. Or at least I certainly hoped I would and am thankful I did. Afterwards, I told Tim that sometimes church reminds me of an AA meeting. Not that I’ve ever been to an AA meeting, but I did read The Liar’s Club and Lit by Mary Karr, so I feel like I know exactly what an AA meeting is like.


We do this thing in church where pastor allows for testimony from the floor. He asks us to tell about the impacts we’ve had on others. It’s an odd tradition really. I mean, we rarely know when we’ve had impacts on others, right? Unless, it’s negative and then everybody in a small town already knows all about that.  I always get this tense feeling my stomach in those seconds as we wait for somebody to stand or raise their hand. I think it’s the English in me. I’m always a bit fearful that we are going to end up looking a bit like British Parliament.



There’s really no reason to fear it. Usually, we end up with the same three or four people giving a good word. On occasion, however, we do get a wild hair. That happened two weeks ago and pastor cut the fellow off by saying, “Let’s not tell that story, okay.”

I have no idea what the story was, but I was raised under that old adage, “If you don’t want to know what I think, don’t ask me.”

Of course, you all can attest to the fact that most of the time I tell you far more than you ever wanted to know (which come to think of it is a bit like an AA meeting). I’d apologize but I think you all just keep coming back to see what train wreck I’ll be in next.

I do think handing the mic off to someone is risky business. It certainly takes a bit of faith to hand the mic over to complete strangers or the strangely familiar, don’t you think?

Pastor told us today that while we ought to be radicals for Jesus, we didn’t need to be weird about it. He said there are enough weird people in the world. Can I get an Amen for that?

But truth be known, I’m not much of a radical, and I’m a pretty lousy activist. Mobilizing the masses sounds like entirely too much work.

Just thinking about it exhausts me.

I much prefer Andrew’s example.

Andrew ran to his brother Peter and said, “Hey, Bro, I met the coolest dude today. He’s as funny as Robert Downey Jr. and he looks like Gerard Butler with a full-on beard. Really. You’re going to love him. And did I mention he can walk on water? C’mon, with me. You’ve just got to meet him.”

I can so totally relate to Andrew’s enthusiasm.

I love it when my friends introduce me to their other friends.  Or when readers tell their friends that they have to read something I’ve written. It makes me feel like people are proud to know me. Like I’m doing something I was created to do.

I love that feeling so much I’ve decided that I need to do that more often myself. I want to take the opportunity to introduce more of my friends to you all. So I’m going to mix things up here at the blog this year. I’ve asked my daughter Shelby Dee to share her thoughts with us each Monday. And every Friday I’m going to have a guest blogger. (Feel free to pipe up if you’d like to be one of the folks featured.) On Saturdays, I want us to join together in a more intimate way. I’m throwing open the blog for everyone to gather together for prayer. It’ll be a place where you can come and ask for specific prayers and/or pray for others. Or just to share your thoughts and wranglings with prayer.

Oh, there will be the usual standard fare of news and opinion and storytelling and book reviews in the mix. But this year, I just want to be more intentional about what we are doing here.

Radicals, weirdoes, activists and advocates are always welcome here. And you have my word, I promise never to ask you to recite anything in unison.







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  • Dtrcy1

    Just some fyi. The “tradition” started with this pastor so it’s new for us oldtimers, too.
    I think originally it was designed so folks would tell about how OTHER believers impacted their lives but it has turned into a “testimony, prayer request, medical report, comedy try-out ” sort of thing. I, too, have that twisted stomach feeling each week and am surprised that it doesn’t turn into a mess more often. I think if I had been there I might have challenged the idea that you can be radical for Jesus without being weird. I think sometimes that holds us back from radically loving the unloved, serving the powerless and moving out of our comfort zones to really impact lives. That’s what we should be sharing about on Sunday morning.

    • AFRoger

      Seems like the question of how other people of faith have impacted our lives would evoke more honest recounting rather than our assessment of how we have impacted other people. Another way to evoke self examination that we may not wish to verbalize is this question: Whom do I know by name and life story that I would not know if I didn’t know Jesus?

    • They don’t call them comfort zones for nothing, ya know.

  • Dtrcy1

    P.S. loved the clip from Parliment.

  • Debbie Ann

    I love it when the weirdos tell everyone not to be weird….going to be a good year Mrs Spears…:)

    • You Aussies put the cool into weird! Yes, Debbie, going to be an adventurous year & I look forward to it.

  • Anonymous

    1. Love that you are doing this. Cannot wait to see how the prayer thing works. It would be neat too if there is someway to track answered prayers.
    2. I would love to guest post…I think (can you tell I am a little scared).
    3. I do not know how to make this sound right. You do not know me, at least we have never met in person. Nevertheless, I feel like I know you, at least sort of… and I have very proud to know you. Much love…

    • Tim, Terrific! But you raise an important question here, I think. Is there any such thing as unanswered prayer?

  • Sherwood8028

    Reminded me of a letter I sent just before reading your “word for the day”…

    “Good to hear from you – thanks to the editors of The Tennessean earlier today. I enjoyed reading what you had to say while eating my breakfast and it set the tone for my day.

    Actually, I am in favor of maximum civility as my 82+ years have taught me, if you want others to respect you, you must also respect their thought processes. They won’t always be civil and you may never know what caused them to act the way they do. Life itself is a process. We are fortunate indeed if we find it easier to smile than to frown.

    Since I have to take retirement seriously, I have made a real effort to express myself on the things I have learned. I was fortunate enough to live through the Great depression and World War II and to escape from service during the Korean “war” without a scratch. I also graduated from college afterwards and have often wondered why we put such emphasis on the degrees one can earn while most graduates never learn how to relate to the people we are destined to meet along the way.

    So, when I write that impassioned letter or article containing my thoughts and receive no “feed back”, it merely reminds me of the conditions in which we find ourselves. The problem is, the others are too busy trying to appease those for whom and with whom they are attempting to earn a living.

    I am a football fan and in Tennessee that means you either love the Volunteers at Tennessee or the Commodores at Vanderbilt to say nothing of the high schools throughout the State. But I am a relative newcomer and was thrilled to discover we have a real live professional team, the Titans. They have their fans as well and fill our 68,000 seat stadium every time there is a game, the only problem being, most do not understand the difference between the pros and the amateurs. The former are working to earn a living and the rest are struggling to make a life. We missed the playoffs by one game this year and you would think, if you read the paper carrying your article, we had experienced a tragedy.

    In my opinion, it not just civility that we should emulate, but maturity as well. This is a great huge planet on which we live and it is growing smaller by the minute. Two hundred and thirty five years ago, our fore fathers apparently sensed our day was coming and penned a Constitution that often times appears to serve us beyond our ability to appreciate it.

    It’s most revealing aspect is that it can be amended as times change, but the process is a bit complicated. It requires that we find approval among the majority of our people, even when that seems to be an impossibility.

    That should have taught us, we need one another. Some reach back in our history books to discover what others have had to say in the past and while there a semblance of being appropriate for these times, the real relevance will be discovered in our midst. Our heroes do not need our accolades, it is the guy or gal making an attempt who needs our encouragement.

    Who knows, Harvey, there may come a day when what you and I have had to say is being shouted from the rooftops.

    Until then, I remain, your friend,”

    Sherwood MacRae
    Cookeville, TN

    Article in reference appears below:

    Even minimal civility hard to come by

    Harvey Radin

    No one gets back … for the most part.

    Even when columnists for big-city newspapers say they welcome readers’ views and provide readers with an email contact address in their columns, if you happen to send an email, don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply.

    I’m not a big-time columnist, but guest articles that I’ve written have been published in various media. For example, a financial industry publication, American Banker, ran my column about negative public opinion of Wall Street firms and big banks; a timely, compelling topic right now.

    In the article, I suggested that: “If banks truly want to reverse negative opinion of their companies and their executive leadership, they might want to consider, as a new paradigm, the good old fundamentals of banking.” In particular, the important role banks have played in supporting business and human enterprise.

    My counsel for financial firms is based on years of experience in corporate PR. Believing that thought leaders in the beleaguered, image-challenged financial industry might benefit from the column, I sent copies of the article to bankers associations throughout the U.S. and abroad. I welcomed feedback, figuring that it would be beneficial to share ideas about the industry’s troubling image issues. But only one association out of about 40 got back to me.

    With politicians trying to get a handle on the industry’s problems, I thought elected officials might want to be aware of the column. I sent it to various members of Congress and to political organizations, including national and state Republican and Democratic party groups.

    I thought my views would be helpful, in particular, for a progressive Democratic organization that had weighed in on a range of business topics, including the current events that are having an impact on banking. And I sent my column to journalists and editorial page editors who had written about the financial industry.

    But once again, there was no response from politicians and political groups, and I received replies from only two journalists, out of a whole bunch.

    When, as a courtesy, you try to share insights about important issues, you want to believe that, at the very least, there will be some response. I wasn’t seeking accolades; if someone agrees with me, that’s fine. If someone thinks I’m full of it, that’s fine, too. But getting virtually zero response makes you wonder what’s going on — why civility is MIA, for the most part.

    We’re busy and frenzied these days. But still, sending just a brief response in maybe two or three words — how much time does that take?

    I really would welcome thoughts and feedback about MIA civility. And yes, I will get back to you.

    As a communications executive for multinational firms, Harvey Radin was responsible for PR, media relations and crisis communication management during his corporate career in Los Angeles, London, New York and San Francisco. He is currently an independent public relations consultant. He welcomes feedback. Contact him

    • Sherwood: I am so thankful that you saw fit to offer all of us here your encouragement and words of wisdom gleaned from a life well-lived. It means all the more to me because I know you to practice what you preach. We don’t always see eye-to-eye but you have always managed to disagree with me respectfully, even when I didn’t necessarily return the kindness. So thank you for that. And thank you for this. You are right — we do need each other.

  • Linda

    Count me in! This look like an exciting place to stay connected. I read a couple of your books last year due to Tegan Tigani’s recomendation. And we are still making progress on our own book. Here’s to 2012!!!