Saturday, May 3, 2008

Great Quote

Lots of Saturday pix and info to come later today, but for the moment I had to post this quote.

Discovered it when reading an article on billionaire entrepreneur Philip Anschutz in the current Christianity Today magazine. Now in his 70's, Anschutz is an incredibly visionary person, seeing trends before they happen and making zillions of dollars off them. But he's also a committed Christian, and is out to provide better film-fare for movie-goers. He owns two production companies -- Bristol Bay (Amazing Grace -- the story of John Newton, among others) and Walden Media (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe plus the upcoming Prince Caspian and the five remaining Narnia books, among others).

The article mentioned that he has a quote by the late (he committed suicide) gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson hanging on his office wall. The quote is more meaningful if you know anything about Hunter S. Thompson -- but here's the quote nonetheless:
"[The movie business is] a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."
What writing! That's why Thompson was known, apart from his "gonzo" lifestyle -- for his way with words and critique of "everything."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Do You or Don't You?

While juicing this morning I was listening to Regis and Kelly -- a hilarious discussion broke out about "colonics" (enemas) as a protocol used in cleaning therapies. Apparently the show's producer, Gelman (?), is in the midst of some sort of cleansing process and Regis wanted to know if he was using colonics. After much pressing by Regis, the guy finally admitted he was "very uncomfortable" with the idea of using colonics as a cleaning protocol -- not for any scientific reasons, just the idea of . . . well, you know. Regis has apparently used them -- Kelly, no.

There is evidence of enemas being used as far back as the classical Greek era. Enemas are also described in The Essene Gospel of Peace, purportedly dated to the 2nd-3rd century A.D. (Note: This isn't an endorsement of that or similar books; just a historical reference.) Coffee enemas were popularized in the 20th century as part of the nutritional cancer therapy created by Dr. Max Gerson, the coffee serving to dilate the liver's bile ducts and release accumulated toxins from the liver into the colon for elimination.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

World Christians

Bill and Joy Boerop, long-time friends from Atlanta, stopped by the house today to talk about a book manuscript joy has in the works.


Bill and Joy are true "world (not worldly) Christians," having given their lives to equipping the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ -- to make disciples of all nations. Bill held his first World Thrust seminar in 1974 and he and joy formed World Thrust International in 1984. The ministry is based in Atlanta but they spend much of their time on other continents, especially Africa of late, equipping church leaders to guide their churches into effective missions strategies.

I met Bill when I was on a church staff in Atlanta and responsible for the church's missions outreach. We became friends and around 1985 Bill hired me to write a training manual for their ministry -- a "train the trainer" manual to equip church leaders to teach others about the priority of world evangelization. That manual, Bill told me today, has been used to equip leaders in more than 30 countries around the world. So the Lord used Bill to help me learn to write. (He therefore shares the credit and the blame!) I'm grateful for the confidence he had in me at that time.

Bill is Dutch (he pronounced "Kruidenier" correctly when we first met!), and Joy was raised in China as an MK (missionary kid). Her book will be a page-turner when it is published. The average Christian in America can hardly relate to the experiences Joy will tell about and how God used them to shape her life


Mission (Not?) Accomplished

Today is the five-year anniversary of President Bush's landing on the deck of the Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and speaking to the troops with the infamous "Mission Accomplished" sign in the background, declaring that major combat hostilities in Iraq had ceased.

I recall thinking at the time that "this is not a good thing." Seeing the civilian leader of the country dressed in a Navy flight suit, crash helmet under his arm, not only blurred the line between the civilian and military sectors in our government -- something that the founding fathers intended to be clearly separate -- but it only made his inbred Texas swagger that much more evident.

I can't say that war and violence are never necessary, but I can say that (the Bible says that) pride precedes a fall. I wish somehow the president's victory lap around the Lincoln's deck might have been replaced with a face-on-the-deck prostration, asking God for mercy and grace to be poured out on the Iraqi people, and humility and servant-leadership on ourselves. Swagger is a scary thing. (I should know, having swaggered a time or two in my life.)

[Disclosure: the White House has maintained for five years that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was put up by the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln personnel and referred only to their role in the attacks on Iraq, not the U.S.'s overall role. The WH has also acknowledged that they should have been more careful about the message the sign delivered since they knew about it before the event. And they certainly knew about the plan for the president to arrive on the carrier in a Navy jet. The president is the president. That day -- its events and impressions -- could have been different.]

True Food

The True Food Network has, on their website, a chart showing which popular brands of foods contain GMO (genetically modified organisms) and which don't in 20 different categories of foodstuffs. The bottom line: All/most the popular food brands of packaged and processed foods (as of 2003, the date of the research/chart) contain GMOs. Since the chart is five years old, it won't be entirely accurate (they're working on an update). But wouldn't we suspect the updated chart to contain even more GMO-tainted products instead of less?

The only way to avoid GMOs in food is to buy organic, as all USDA-certified-organic prepared/processed foods are supposed to be GMO-free. The BEST way to avoid GMOs is to limit your shopping to the organic products (required to be grown with organically-produced seed, though that's not always the case) in the fresh produce section of the grocery store. Even if organic produce isn't grown with certified organic seed (sometimes the quantities of organic seeds needed by commercial organic growers isn't available, though that is rapidly changing), it is at least non-GMO seed.

The VERY BEST way to get the best food possible is to grow it yourself in your own YardFarm -- or buy it from a neighborhood farmer or grower. When the only profit motive attached to food production is the profit of good health, there is every incentive to grow it as naturally as possible. (Note: That's not an anti-profit statement. Nature demonstrates the purest form of profit motive by returning net-thousands of tomato seeds from the investing [planting] of only one. It's just to say that the mix of fallen human nature and profits has caused more than one well-intended person to compromise -- and organic farmers are not exempt from that temptation.)

The jury is still out on the impact of GMO foodstuffs on human beings, though a grizzly, bizarre new skin condition that has the CDC stumped may be (emphasize: not proven) linked to GMOs.

Think of the percentage of the American population that blindly goes down the aisles of grocery stores buying, and then consuming, foods that have been genetically modified. Thankfully, most of these products are banned in Europe, but America hasn't been as wise.

[Thanks to for some of the above links.]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Green Manure

I posted pictures previously of a brown, sterile field in Union County (see below) where the winter cover crops had been "nuked" with herbicides to kill them in preparation for plowing the fields for planting. Below are four pictures of cover crops done right: mowed down instead of killed with herbicides in anticipation of being plowed back into the earth to add the organic matter into the soil. The term "green manure" refers to the powerful addition these grasses and legumes make to the soil when they are cut and plowed back in to be broken down by the soil's micro-organisms.

There are numerous reasons for planting cover crops in fields during the non-growing seasons:

1. Prevent soil erosion due to wind and rain.
2. Some cover crops pull nitrogen out of the air and "fix" the nitrogen in tiny "balls" onto the roots of the crops. This nitrogen is the same as the "N" on the bags of the fertilizer farmers and homeowners use (the first number in the three-digit fertilizer rating, like 10-10-10, refers to nitrogen. The second is phosphorous and the third, potassium). Cover crops that are legumes, like peas, fix nitrogen in the soil in a totally natural fashion.
3. Providing "green manure" when the cover crops are plowed under. The cover crops become food for micro-organisms and worms.
4. If the cover crops are allowed to flower (e.g., crimson and white clover are familiar examples) they provide acres of pollen for bees, wasps, and other pollen collectors and spreaders.
5. The roots of the cover crops keep the soil from compacting during the winter.

To be honest, I don't know if the grasses seen below are going to be plowed under or baled as hay. But I'm showing the pictures just to provide an image of the lush abundance of organic matter that results from a field of cover crops. This grass looks like the waves on the surface of a choppy ocean they are so abundant. These pictures were taken very near my neighborhood -- one of the remaining agriculture islands left (note the cows in the field with new homes in the background).





Finally, compare the lushness of this cut field with the barrenness of the "nuked" field I posted previously:


Thanks, Harris Teeter

One of the local big-box grocery stores in North Carolina (and other southeastern cities) is Harris Teeter. I've spoken with some of their "suits" recently when there, thanking them for the energy they're putting into stocking organic produce. The quality varies, but it is no worse than EarthFare which should put Harris Teeter to shame in this category.

Harris Teeter does a nice job of drawing attention to its organic produce -- there is even more than what is evident in these two pictures.



It's important to tell retailers when they're doing stuff that's good (and not good). I do both. I've discovered my age and gray hair gets the attention of younger managers and they listen. So I'm using that bully pulpit as often as possible.

Peachy Water Tower

For those who have never seen it, here's the famous peach-shaped water tower along I-85 in the heart of the South Carolina peach orchard region. Very cool. I took this while driving to Atlanta last Sunday.


Alzheimer's Reversal

This is such an amazing article that I'm publishing it in its entirety. (Disclosure: I'm publishing this without permission. I am a subscriber to the author's newsletter and count it a valuable regular read. See contact and copyright information below.)
Cure Alzheimer's Disease in Minutes

A UCLA clinic has reported what some have hailed as the discovery of the decade. It's an injection that can reverse Alzheimer's disease in minutes. The scientists report that 45 out of 50 patients treated showed a response, usually within minutes.

The results were so startling that the researchers released videos of the immediate improvement to prove it. In one case, the patient suddenly recognized his wife after years of non-recognition. Weeks later, the wife affirmed that her husband now makes sense 90% of the time instead of 0% before the treatment.

The treatment involves a new use for an old arthritic drug - etanercept. Its trade name is Enbrel. To treat Alzheimer's, the doctor simply injects the drug into the spinal canal in the neck at the base of the skull. The doctor then tilts the patient so that the drug moves up and into the brain. The doctor administers it weekly until the improvement stabilizes. This usually peaks at about three months. The researchers have followed some of the patients for as long as three years, with no sign of regression.

Etanercept is a powerful inflammation suppressor. That's why it treats arthritis. Its benefit in Alzheimer's sheds new light on the mechanism of and possible treatment of the otherwise progressive disease. Inflammation within the brain might be the underlying cause. Such inflammation could lead to the beta amyloid deposits and degenerative tangles of the nerve endings.

I get lots of calls about Alzheimer's. This etanercept treatment is highly specialized. It requires a risky and technical injection into the spinal canal high in the neck. It requires a highly trained doctor to do it. I have not been happy with the safety of this drug in arthritis patients. I don't consider it safe at all. Furthermore, I know that it has induced MS like conditions in some users.

However, Alzheimer's disease is an indescribable tragedy. I've always said that there's a place for drugs when used with discretion. This could be one of those times. Indeed, even if there are substantial risks, would it not be worth the chance to restore mental function to an otherwise helpless soul? Even if only temporary? The drug is not likely to treat the actual cause of the inflammation. However, it could light the path to finding it.

Estimates suggest that Alzheimer's will threaten up to 20% of the baby boomer population. Any help is monumental. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's, please ask him about this specialized treatment. He should be able to find a doctor that does the treatment. And stay tuned to these alerts, as I'll have even more Alzheimer's breakthroughs coming in future issues.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,
Robert Jay Rowen, MD

This quote is from the free email newsletter of Dr. Robert Rowen, an alternative M.D. who writes the Second Opinion newsletter, which I highly recommend. Here is the copyright and contact info for the above article and for the print newsletter:

Copyright © 2008 Soundview Communications, Inc.

To contact or subscribe:
Second Opinion
P.O. Box 467939
Atlanta, GA 31146

You can subscribe to Dr. Rowen's free email newsletter here.


Finally -- I heard this morning about a dedicated organic/vegetarian restaurant in the Charlotte area: The Sweet Pea Café.

Sort of in our area, anyway. It's located in (what used to be) the small town of Concord, NC, which is northeast of Charlotte and now part of the Charlotte sprawl. Since I'm on the south side of Charlotte between Matthews and Indian Trail (see the same Google map at the previous link), it looks to be about a 30-minute drive via freeway.

The menu looks great. They apparently have been there for four years but today is the first I have heard of them. Their web site home page testifies to the famine in our area: "The region's only vegetarian and organic restaurant." (If anybody knows of other such places to eat, please let me know.)

I'll report back soon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cool Statistics

•Hallmark sold 85,000 "Happy 100th Birthday" cards in 2007.
•The average 65-year-old woman can expect to live until 87.
•The average 65-year-old man can expect to live until 84.
(from an Allstate ad on the back cover of the April 2008 National Geographic magazine)

I wonder (with tongue in cheek):
•Should women marry men three years their junior so as to cross the finish line hand-in-hand?
•Should it be that difficult to be "above average" and live to 100+?
•Should I invest in Hallmark?

I'm Sorry If . . .

I've heard "I'm sorry if . . ." one too many times.

The latest is out of the mouth of the 15-year-old child-star Miley Cyrus. (Actually, from the pen of her publicist whose job it is to keep her looking as pure as driven snow). In defending the bare-backed, sultry photo scheduled to appear in Vanity Fair, Cyrus said, "I'm sorry if I disappointed my fans . . . yada yada" (my paraphrase from hearing it several times on the news).

We hear this formula continually from celebrities: "I'm sorry if . . . ." The word "if" shifts the emphasis off the person's behavior or speech. It says, "I'm not saying I did anything wrong. But IF you think I did something wrong and were hurt/offended/upset by that, I'm sorry you drew that conclusion and had that reaction."

Just once I would like to hear a celebrity say, "I don't know whether anyone was hurt/offended/upset by my words/actions or not, but in retrospect I know I was. I have decided that what I did was wrong and I am not going to do it again. If you drew that same conclusion, then we're together. I was wrong and you are right. I'm sorry for what I did, but my being sorry has more to do with MY estimate of my behavior than it does YOURS. I am not sorry primarily because I hurt/offended/upset you, but because I disappointed myself. I violated my own/God's/the community's/my family's standards, and that's just flat wrong. And I am sorry, period."

Something tells me that people who say, "I'm sorry if . . ." really don't think they've done anything wrong at all and wouldn't know a true apology if it fell out of the sky in front of them. (After all, judging from what Miley Cyrus said about the photos when they were taken, she seemed to think they were just fine. It was only after they were published and the public outcry began that she suddenly decided she was sorry -- correction, her publicist decided she was sorry.)

P.S. I'm not sorry IF the above has hurt/offended/upset you. :-)

Is That Why They Call It a "Head" of Lettuce?

I've always been curious about the fact (claim) that humans and chimpanzees have genetic material that is 95-98 percent identical. I don't know what that means (it seems like we are more than 2-5% different from these primates, opposable thumbs notwithstanding) but I was interested in this fact: The very high correlation between human and chimpanzee gene sequences is "less meaningful than it sounds. Humans share more than 80 percent of their gene sequence with mice, and maybe 40 percent with lettuce" (National Geographic, "Almost Human," by Mary Roach, April 2008, p. 134).

Now I'm curious as to which 40% of me is identical to lettuce. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the 60% difference is the fact that I can type.

O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

Photos from the memorial celebration of the life of Cheryl Burton held at the Burtons' home in Loganville, Georgia, April 27, 2008.

I have known the Burtons since 1980 -- they were members of the first church in Stone Mountain, GA, where I served as associate pastor. Great, good, and godly folks -- I always looked to the Burtons as a model of integrating family and ministry in a remarkable way.
Not perfect, just inspiring. When I first met the Burtons, they were active lay folks in our church -- Dan a homebuilder. Five years later, I was out of pastoral ministry and Dan was on the verge of becoming a pastor! I became a pastor by going to seminary; Dan and Cheryl were called into pastoral ministry because of their gifts -- the way it should be.

Hundreds of people came on a damp day to celebrate Cheryl's impact on their life. She had battled breast cancer courageously for several years, eyes fixed on Jesus the whole time.

For the moment, here are a few pix. Meant to take more, but spent most of the time chatting with familiar folks I had known during the years we lived in Atlanta. I don't know of another residential property that has impacted more lives than the Burtons' acres. The large yard that Cheryl oversaw for decades now was the site for hundreds who came to say "Thanks:"



When I turned onto Rosebud, then Brushy Fork, then Old Loganville Road, I felt like I was on auto-pilot:


Dan, Cheryl's husband and pastor, had the difficult task of welcoming friends to a final meeting with his best friend:


Lots of worship of Him, as Dan said, "to whom praise is due:"


Dan praising God in the face of inestimable loss:


It was standing room only, and the rain deterred no one:


Dan and Cheryl's four children (left to right) -- Evan, Christi, Andrew, Heather -- read a beautiful eulogy, a sweeping overview of God's hand revealed in their mom's life and ministry:


As Dan said, if everyone who had a story to tell about Cheryl's impact on their life were to speak, we'd have been there "'til next week." So Dan asked good friends, Ray and Sue Dillon (whose son Chris is married to the Burtons' Christi), to share a remarkable story about a mission trip to the island of Grenada and how Cheryl organized an impromptu ministry to a school-full of children:


Old friends -- I regret not taking pictures of all the old friends I saw. Here are the Dillons plus Karen and Larry Satchwell and their daughter Nicky (grammar-school age the last time I saw here -- and Nicky's baby). Too many stories to tell about my relationship with these friends and others that were there:


Dan Burton -- retired Navy reserve commander, homebuilder, church planter, pastor, joker, loud laugher, loving husband, and faithful friend -- now beginning a new chapter of his own journey with Jesus:



To Atlanta and back in one day was a long drive, but I wouldn't have missed saying good-bye to a dear friend. Prior to going, I had read an interview with Dr. Howard Hendricks on the subject of legacy. The words seem apropos for the life and legacy of Cheryl Burton -- a few excerpts:
"I think one has to make some permanent difference in the lives of people. We're so involved in activities and organizations that we forget the individual. I think the change that one makes in the lives of other people is the thing that delights the heart of God . . . . I do not think that celebrity is in any way Christian. Celebrity is something that is attached to you by people. A legacy is something that God produces in your life. He uses you but you're not the center of the activity . . . . When you are talking about a person who leaves a legacy, no one can ever question the impact of it. He or she may not know the true impact. But God does. And it remains permanently. . . . I am absolutely convinced that [character is] what constitutes the ultimate legacy. And I think you and I see it with people we love and respect. Behind the scenes there is that consistency, that pattern. That demonstrates their life is one of reality. It's not something put on. It's not about them. It's all about God. And to me that's the heart of leaving a legacy. Do they remember you? Or do they remember the God that you believed in and served." (Dallas Connection: Alumni News from Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 2008, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 1-2)
Going to memorial services and funerals is a good thing. It reminds us that, "Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences" (Hebrews 9:27, The Message).