Monday, October 20, 2008


I finally found the solution to becoming a better me. I've long wanted to master the soft psychology of self-improvement. Ever since I started watching Oprah, reading Doctor Phil books, and receiving my weekly e-scription from Deepak Chopra, my appetite to help myself has become insatiable.

The problem, though, with these gurus of autonomy is their lack of biblical reverence. Sure, they're spiritual, but they're not Holy Spirit(ual). To reinvent myself in the purest sense, I would need the New Testament, not the New Age.

The answer descended in my mailbox, on glossy paper with the Parents Television Council Seal of Approval. (Twenty-first century theophanies are delivered in print because God must condescend to our rationalism.) Short of wings, harps, and halos, skyangel was the answer I'd been waiting for: TV for Christians.

Promised in the publication is programing that will help the consumer "become a better person... a better parent... a better Christian... a better you." More importantly, skyangel can be customized, since self-improvement is, by definition, an individualistic pursuit. If your only interest is faith, purchase the Faith Package ($14.99 mo.); if being better includes your family's needs, buy the Family Package ($19.99 mo.); and if you're not content with the better you, but are striving for the best (value) you, then subscribe to the Family Values Pak ($24.99 mo.).

I"m so excited! I can now "Bring Faith Home" via satellite. I can bolster myself and my family through digital transmission. I can fix those vulnerable parts of my soul that neither the Bible nor the Church have addressed.

Until this point, I was going without any TV, but I hadn't reached a spiritual zenith. And I feared that strengthening my faith was just remotely possible. Now it's remotely controlled.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blinking light

Our answering machine was blinking. The call had registered at approximately 8:03 p.m., EST, precisely when Liz and I were singing songs and saying prayers for our daughters to lull them to sleep.

An eight o'clock call is never promising: it's too late for good news ('Congratulations, you've won a weekend cruise), and I'm too and masculine to enjoy a casual, mid-week chat. I've long since passed that two-month window in fifth grade where talking on the phone was fun.

No, a call at eight o'clock means someone in the church is bleeding or your Alma mater needs money or your brother-in-law wants to borrow your second season of The Office. Anyone who calls at eight o'clock wants something.

I wasn't eager to listen to the message. I didn't feel like resourcing myself. But my desire was trumped by an overwhelming sense of duty, or an unfortunate case of answering-machine OCD. (I also suffer from check-the-mail and read-the-police-beat OCD.)

Beckoned by the blinking light, I pressed the Play button. It was a dispassionate, female voice. She was calling for John McCain. She was calling to rally me. She was calling to impugn Barack Obama and the Illinois state legislature for their liberal views on abortion.

She was calling to inform me that late-term fetuses that survive the monstrous abortion process are not the doctor's responsibility.

She was calling to tell me that these babies may be set out to cry, dry, and die.

She was letting me know, as I sang lullabies to my three-year old and prayed peace over my one-year old, that the doctors were not required to pray peace over these children, and the nurses were not mandated to sing 'Good Night Sweetheart.'

She was letting me know, before I sat down for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and conversation with my wife, that the hospital was not responsible to provide feeding tubes and respirators to these survivors.

The woman did not ask for my vote; the facts spoke for themselves. In the end, the only thing this message asked of me was to have a ' Good night,' a salutation not legally required by doctors in Illinois; they must merely state this the time of death.