Friday, February 29, 2008

Veteran of Hope: Dr. Vincent Harding on Dr. Martin Luther King

See over at Democracy Now! | Ex-Speechwriter, Confidante Dr. Vincent Harding on Dr. Martin Luther King's Courageous -- and Overlooked -- Antiwar and Economic Justice Activism.

Dr. Harding was one of my professor at seminary. I'm not sure I fully understood him at the time, but come on I was a newly married, trying to be a part-time youth minister and a full-time seminary student and . . . too many other things.

If you don't know who Vincent Harding is, take a break and watch the clip. Today is the February 29th and we have an extra day of Black History month to celebrate. Sure, Black History month is just a made-up holiday so people can talk about history. But that isn't a bad thing! And Vincent Harding is worth getting to know.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who will get Toddy?

It was a disappointing Christmas. For the bust of my adolescent self was the joint gift from the two people who were suppose to know WHAT I REALLY WOULD LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS!

So back in those days $10 per brother was about the budget for a Christmas gift. But I guess at the craft fair Scott & Brian both found the possibility of seeing their elder brother sculpted in clay to be too great a lure. So, yes, dear reader, they did combine their funds together and just by providing a 2d school photo I was transformed into the great work of art you see photographed here.

"Oh, wow, thanks Scott and Brian. I never considered the possibility that I could receive a mini-bust of myself for Christmas. But thanks. Honestly, it is very unexpected. Boy, this sure beats getting any new comic books, or another role playing game module. Thanks, very thoughtful of you. You shouldn't have. Really, you shouldn't have."

He use to have a pair of glasses that has been lost and I've taken him out of his protective case (Insert divorcing guy joke here). And, while there have been many disputes in this adversial legal process I am not engaged in, the final ownership of Toddy has never been in question. Someday you need to count the small blessings.
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McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out - New York Times

For a guy that loves a good constitutional debate, talk about yummy! McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out appears in the New York Times today. (The article is written by Carl Hulse and my father read the article in The Grand Rapids Press and was kind enough to show it to me).

Well, read the article, but the issue is the US Constitution says you must be a "natural-born citizen" to be president. So, since John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the issue is in debate.

So, it seems that not only does the New York Times have an anti-McCain bias to it, so does the United States Constitution.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Real Response to An Anonymous Mother

As a mother in today's society why would you put a picture of your little boy on your site? Is he really your son? Or are you one of those sick men who look for their jollies on line. Will Stone Phillips show up when you least expect it? -- Anonymous Comment on my site.

Wow, anonymous mother thanks for the comments. As a writer and blogger, it is always good to know that you are reaching people and being read. Plus, better than just being read by you, I have illicited an emotional reaction in you. And not just an emotional response, but enough for you to act. Your acted out by posting a comment on my blog. Thank you for your response.

Well, guess what? Your comment has done the same for me.

You are a mother, you say? Well, I will accept your assertion that you are a parent at face value (something that you have not done me the courtesy of).

Dear anonymous mother, let me tell you something as a father. (Yes, I am indeed a father). You know what scares me?

It scares me that we are in an unwinnable war on terror. And if you think the "War on Terror" is just about Iraq or Muslims, you are part of the problem.

We have created a War on Terror Industrial Complex in this country. There are men and women who are becoming rich on playing on the fears of others. Woman and men who have become powerful by being neosegregationists by drawing lines between us and them. They are the new rich and powerful, who are fueled by the fears of others.

The fear of the other.
The fear of the other.
The fear of the other.

I’m a Christian, or at least I try to be. I fail. I fall down, but what you accused me of so vile and offensive to me that I can’t not respond to it. Yet to respond to it would say it is worthy of a response. That is the catch-22 of the War on Terror.

If you really think those things are true, make your anonymous comment to the Division of Child Protection Services. If you live in the Missouri, you can thank the party in power for not providing enough resources to help the brave social workers that work day in and day out to protect our children.

If you want to deal with me directly, please send me an e-mail. Here, let me give you my gmail e-mail address, and you can correspond with me privately:

Anonymous, I don’t know if you are a Christian or not. So if you aren’t, you are ignore this next part as just crazy religious talk. But one of the things that Jesus kept repeating over and over in this ministry was: “Fear Not.”

Fear Not.
Fear Not.
Fear Not.

Jesus knew the world was a scary place. He knew that better than most of us. They hung that man on a tree, courtsey of the Roman War on Terror Industrial Complex for what he said and what he knew. Jesus scared the Roman authorities and they executed him, for just proclaiming the gospel (as he understood it).

(Oh yeah, there were some Jewish collaborators that helped, but they were not the really faithful Jews, they were puppets of the dominant power who gave the nominally Jewish citizenry a false sense of security that their religious way of life was being protected. There is no correlation to our present culture in the last assertion.)

Yeah, Stone Phillips doesn’t scare me, Anonymous Mother. Right now you know what scares me? Over protective mothers who hide behind the comfort of an anonymous comment and try to tell other people how to raise their children.

My name is Todd Michael Elkins. I am Carter’s father and I believe I’m a good father. I am a Christian, and I can’t seem to shake the feeling that you think you are a Christian too.

God, that thought really scares me too.

Dear God, please help me with my fears and anxiety (both real and imagined). May your angels be present in this world (in both real and imagined ways). Please be with my family (in both real and imagined ways). Help me to be an instrument of your peace and shalom (in both real and imagined ways). And please be with us all as we seek to repair this world.

In the real name of Jesus, who is called the Christ.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Carter Loves his Water!

What could make this boy so happy? It must be the Ice Mountain water!
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

What is Old is New Again . . .

I've been looking for the perfect PIM, of course, we all know it already exists. Ecco Pro (Wikipedia entry). Yeah, it is old school, but it runs on Windows Vista and it is now free.

Fast, beautiful organizer. I love it. You should check it out too.

(Or if you want to support World Domination, use MS Outlook).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A One Way Ticket to . . . Evart?

A dear friend of mine says that home is where they have to take you in. After a 20 year absence, I'm preparing to move to Evart, Michigan the town I grew up in and graduated high school in 1987.

There are many transitions going in my life, divorce, career loss, but I'm excited about returning the town that formed me. See, I'm a small town guy. Probably always will be.

My father is the city manager of my old/new hometown. He has a business card with a copy of a train ticket on the back. It says first-class ticket from Evart to ______________.

Yeah, that is the problem with small towns. They often are first class tickets to the next place. I've lived in the Kansas City metro for the past decade. Denver before that. My foundation provided by Evart and Graceland College (in the small town of Lamoni, Iowa) has served me well.

What is next for this Mr. Elkins? Who knows, but 2008 will be the year that I returned to myStuckeyville. Could I become the bowling alley minister? (Obscure reference to the greatest TV Show ever, explained upon request).

How many Laws Are There?

Robin Leftler created:

a set of 102 "Laws" to live by. "When I learn something essential," she explained, "I make up a law about it. That way, I never forget."

1: You can only count on yourself.
12: Give credit where credit is due.
17: When all else fails, do it yourself.
22: Never date a co-worker.
23: Never look back, the obstacles are all ahead.
36: You gotta go with what works.
46: Life isn't always fair.
91: Always watch your back.
103: A couple of light years can't keep good friends apart. (Wesley Crusher suggested adding this) [Source: Memory Alpha]
Ok, next time someone makes fun of you for being into Star Trek. Remind them that Robin Lefler was played by Ashley Judd. Yeah, that Ashley Judd. Ok, I may be a geek, but at least Ashley Judd is in one of my universes.

Does, anyone have other set of rules or laws to live by?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Real Gem in Independence

Hugh Wlesh at the Examiner does a nice write-up about the wonderful Diamond Bowl, called "Having a ball." Yeah, the article is about a month old, but some nice photos there.

I'm a sucker for bowling alleys. Maybe because Bowling Alone is one my favorite books. Maybe because Ed (Wikipedia entry or IMDB) is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Maybe because I love the Independence Square.

Or maybe because Michelle, the manager is awesome. Maybe because the great Paula Sorensen works there when she isn't at the Main Street Coffee Shop and/or singing great songs.

Or maybe because the current plan is for Family Guy viewing on Sunday nights. Or maybe it is the minicheese burgers.

Or maybe, you should just check it out yourself.

It is located at 218 N Osage Street in Independence, Phone: 816.252.8003.

Harry S Truman bowled there, so should you!

cross-posted at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Homosexual Saints

I picked up a copy of what books like a great book edited by William Russell (who I served as his student assistant for 2 years at Graceland) called Homosexual Saints: the Community of Christ Experience. I can't find the book on Amazon, but you can visit the John Whitmer Books Page for some info.

More to follow.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

And They Call It Printer Love

OMG! OMG! I’m in love.

Yeah, I found her. I’ve stared at this girl for a long time. Actually never really this girl. This little sweetie was out of my league. Way too much for a guy like me. Outclassed.

But something brought us together. Perhaps it was God. Perhaps it was the human directional marketing specialists (you know the guys standing on the corner).

Yes, I was there when the last CompUSA in Michigan was closing. It was Lansing, the state capitol. And that is where I found her.

An Epson LQ-570+. A laser printer? Please. I have two laser printers already. An Ink Jet? God no. What type of computer geek do you think I am? You think I would own an Ink Jet printer? Pleeease!

It is Dot Matrix. What a beautiful technology. May I quote from the internet?

Introducing the super fast, super sharp and super quiet 24-pin dot matrix printer. The LQ-570+ narrow carriage prints at 337 characters per second in draft and 112 cps in letter quality. You get the sharpest Ultra Letter Quality printing at 360 dpi with an optional film ribbon.

  • 225cps draft/75cps LQ @ 10CPI
  • 269cps draft/90cps LQ @ 12CPI
  • 337cps draft/112cps LQ @ 15CPI
  • Handles up to 4-part forms

Handles 4 Part Forms! Handles 4 Part Forms! Try to do that with a laser printer or an ink jet printer.

Plus, best part. It was labeled $10, when we got to the cash register, it was only $5.

What about the ribbons? (For you kids out there, ribbons are what we used in the old days on these printers.)

The ribbons are available on the internet for $5 (plus shipping).

It is a cold day in Michigan in February and I’m in love. Sure, its just a printer, but some days that is enough.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Well, I'm writing this from Evart, Michigan. That is home for me. Lots of reasons why I am here, none of those are as important as: I am here.

I am here in the modest home that I was raised in. On the street that I use to walk to school on.

I remember entering kindergarten in 1974. I walked the 10 or 12 blocks to school the first day with my mother. My teacher then told me, "You tell your mother that you are a big boy now and you can walk to school by yourself." To which I did and from that point on I walked to school alone (later with my brothers and others).

It wasn't a more innocent day then (it was, however, before the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Tylenol scare). The Vietnam war was waging; child abuse and neglect abounded. But it was a small town. There were plenty of "safe" houses along the way, but it was naive to think a 5 year should walk that far to school by himself. Yet I did and I was never hurt (not entirely true, but that is enough for now).

I'm not sure which naivete I'm working on, if it is 3rd or 4th. But there is something nice about believing against all the evidence. For you see, that was my job. I was a professional rainman of hope. I've been so upset about losing my job that I forgot who I was and who I am.

I'm a veteran. I'm a Veteran of Hope. (See Vincent Harding's project).

I don't know yet where I will plant my stake in the ground. But wherever it is. There I am.

Listening to: Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds