Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Big Fat Church of Christ Tuesday, Writing

So now that a few folks among the Churches of Christ are starting to observe the traditional Christian calendar (here and there, anyway) I wonder if any of them are doing anything special for Mardi Gras (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday). It sounds like so much fun. But I just don't know where to begin. Any suggestions? Only the kinds of things that won't get me fired, please. Oh, and hurry!

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For lent, I'm not giving up anything that hasn't already been denied. But does this mean I don't get to do the fat thing?

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Something I've noticed is that written work is a lot like a kid. It involves a process that takes time. Finally birthing it is painful. It might not be perfect, but you are reluctant to change a thing. It's easy to overlook the flaws that others see. And that's mainly because there's a part of you that's in there, and you happen to like yourself. No wonder I get so defensive whenever I ask someone to tell me what they think of something I've written and they tell me.

At a writing school in New York, they have "the booth." You're in the booth when others in the class who have read something by you are talking about it. They're required to say something genuinely positive first. But then, they can mention what they think of as negatives. The writer, in the booth, can only listen. He cannot come to the defense of his work (himself).

I've only read about the booth. Never actually been in it. But it sounds like a good exercise, yes?

Monday, February 27, 2006

My "Brother Dowell"

I think that I'm just now "dealing with" the death of someone whom I had not seen for many years before his untimely demise. In fact, I know that's true because, these days, tears well up in my eyes every time I start to think about him.

It was weeks after his passing that word got to me in Connecticut. It arrived accidently, from someone who assumed I already knew. So the news was a shock.

It came at a time when my own world was a desolate place. I felt that much more alone. I don't know, maybe that's why I've waited until now. Maybe I couldn't do this back then.

His name was Dowell Flatt. And I loved him.

For many years, he taught Bible and also served as the Chairman of the Department at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee, my alma mater.

During my years at Freed-Hardeman, there were about 125 guys majoring in Bible. "Preacher students" we were. We enjoyed as well as endured our classes under "Brother Flatt." (He was good and tough).

In or out of the classroom, we hung on every word he said. We laughed at all of his jokes and witty understatements. Truth be told, a lot of us wanted to be him.

More than anyone else, he encouraged me to attend Harding Graduate School once I'd finished my bachelor's degree. And that changed my life more than I imagined it would.

When I was the youth minister at the Church of Christ in Henderson, Tennessee, no one was more supportive of my feeble efforts than were Dowell and his wife, Della. (What a great person she is too).

I could ramble on and on about him. But I guess that I just want to register my memory that Dowell Flatt showed me grace and taught me truth at an important time in my life. So I'll always be thankful to God for him.

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labor, and their works will follow them." --Revelation 14:13

Friday, February 24, 2006

Back at it

As many a blogger has learned, once you break for a while it's hard to get going again. That's life, right? The law of inertia kicks in. You start other habits.

When it comes to me blogging now, it's especially hard because, . . . well, how do you size up a month's worth of life transition? (That's my recent, unrecorded experience). I just can't write that much, or that well.

Anyway, there aren't too many things that could've jump started me these days. Here's one though. Donald Fagen (one of the two master minds back of the band called Steely Dan) is breaking the silence. You can check out the first few tracks of "Morph the Cat"--the album to be released in March--and sample the later tracks here.

If you give it a chance and take a listen, write back and tell me what you think. My impressions? It's solid and sweet. The music grooves and gives. And as expected, what great musicians he has playing with him. This guy is a genius.