Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jerry D. Morris 1935-2008

This past Thursday (12/11/08) my wife's grandfather passed away. We spent Friday figuring out whether to drive or fly to Cotter, AR.  We flew there on Saturday for the service on Sunday and back last nignt (Monday).

Today I've been thinking a lot about his life and legacy. Jerry was affectionately known as "Pa" by his family and though he gave me permission to call him that....I never felt entitled to. Jerry was a true patriarch. He and his wife Marilyn had four children. Those children had 6 grandchildren. And 3 great grandsons (with another grandson/granddaughter on the way).

At the service yesterday I felt a justified sense of pride telling a stranger at the funeral that the unruly child I as dealing with was "Jerry's great grandson." The stranger perked up and said to Elijah "Oh, I am your great-grandfather's neighbor."

I think this would have pleased Jerry. He did many things with his life (see here and here) but he would be the first to tell you that his family was his greatest treasure and accomplishment. The day after he passed away an article was published in the local paper about family holidays and conversation that happened to quote him:

"For many, many years," Jerry Morris said, "Marilyn's grandfather, Clarence Hopkins, gave the same blessing. Now, we ask various members of the family if they can
remember it, and many of them can still recite it."

Morris believes that telling stories about the character of grandparents and, as his
family calls them, "greats," encourages support of one another and results in a
strong family.

"There's so much value," he said, "in simple human interaction."

I'll leave you with a poem he wrote and gave us copies of last Christmas that at the time was about his parents but now means so much more.

Maude and Jim Morris

They gave us a good name

Our mama and dad,

That's a fine garment in which to be clad

We had no idea what wealth we had

That good name from mama and dad

They worked as farmers in the Ozark hills

Toiling and tilling the land for its yield

Feeding their children with the food from the field

Loving and laughing and teaching

As bells of time pealed

They raised twelve children with their work and

their love

And never complained that any of us heard

We had lots of warmth, even when it was cold

And ate great food, all bountiful and bold

They sent us to school, all scrubbed and clean

And told us to remember our name

'cause that was the best path to fame

A good name, our dad always said,

Was the best possession anyone ever had

And truth was the way to be trusted and revered

And we were to speak it whatever occured

They died, as all people do

But they left us their good name

And that is most true

by Jerry Morris

The Twelfth Child

Here is my wife and I leaving our wedding as Pa (far right) looked on......

(Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Have I Done?

I am already regretting this whole Blog thing. When I started it I thought I had things to say and time to say them. Turns out I was wrong.

I originally wanted to do one entry a week. Then that got relaxed and I am afraid the next posting will be something like:

"August 11 2010

MAN I haven't posted on here in forever. Internet use is limited here in prison. Also, typing with only one arm is not easy! Have I got an update for you....."

These blogs are such a humbling exercise in vanity. I don't think I need to build up that muscle.

I'll keep trying though.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Myth of the Cool Dad

By most accounts I am still a young man.  When I tell people I'm 26 I feel the weight of that immaturity.  I still have the vanity of a young man.  I have a situation that makes me struggle with my that vanity though: Babies.  

The young man vanity dies hard.  I can try to dress like a young man.  I can work on all the hottest slang.  I can go to a bar or a concert and sometimes slip in with the undergrads unnoticed.   I can even try my damndest to have adult conversation with someone.  All of that is merely temporary because I'm a father.  And part of being a father is being degraded by and for my children.

Before I had kids I Loved Halloween because I could dress up as Zutroy the Vampire Clown.  I'd  put on a cloak, a cape, fangs, and clown makeup.  It was awesome.   May I present you with my last 3 halloweens.

Halloween 2008 
101 Dalmations (Melissa was Cruella DeVille)

Halloween 2007
The Rubbles -Barney, Betty, and BamBam

Halloween 2006
Peanuts -Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Snoopy

Folks, welcome to the world of theme costumes.  Goodbye Vanity.  At least I still have more dignity than these babies.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jason Mraz: Guilty Pleasure #1

Jason Mraz. Man I hate that guy. I hate how I turn up his music and sing along with it when I'm in the car. I REALLY hate that I spent an hour the other night watching live clips of his on Youtube. Why is he able to write such clever quicky lyrics and sing them with a sincerely beautiful voice? I want to punch him in the face.

Jason Mraz reminds me of Justin Timberlake in the way that you will NEVER see a (straight) guy put him in the "favorite music" section of their profile but you'll find his mp3's in their playlists.  Plus, I'm sure that either of those guys would be totally cool if they met some regular dude that is a fan since they are used to girls just fawning over them.  They'd be thrilled to talk me about seasonal beers and college football.

Other things I hate about Jason Mraz:
1. Association w/Trucker Hat movement a few years back
2. Self Reference in every song (Usually about his rhyming ability)
3. Fact that my wife wishes I'd dress like him

I saw Jason Mraz live back in 2004.  He played Freedom Weekend Aloft.  FWA is a festival in South Carolina centered around hot air balloons and usually a radio station will spend their entire years worth of marketing budget on trying to book a band someone has heard of.  Mraz went on before Fuel and Live.  He came out to a crowd that wanted to hate him.....and owned it.   Just him and some gigantic dude playing djembe playing in front of 5,000 people.   He earned my respect but not any of my money.....yet.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Local Celebrities: Charm City Love Letter #1

Dear Baltimore,

Oh how I love thee! Just today I was thinking of how many famous and super important people call you home or at least did before they became notable. There are famous politicians like Spiro Agnew, Nancy Pelosi, and Thurgood Marshall. Musical artists like Frank Zappa, Billie Holliday, and David Byrne. Atheletes like Cal Ripken Jr and Babe Ruth. Writers like HL Mencken, Edgar Allan Poe, and Upton Sinclair. Entertainers like Barry Levinson, Anna Faris, and Pat Sajak. Even people not worth mentioning like David Hasselhoff, Stacy Kiebler, and Montel Williams have lived in/been born in Baltimore!

All of those people get props for having done time in Charm City but people who live here mainly talk about the holy trifecta of famous people: John Waters (the director), Michael Phelps (the olympian), and Jenna Bush (the 1st Daughter). In my head...I wonder what they would talk about if they ever got together.

John: Thanks for coming for tea you guys!

Michael: Uh, thanks.

Jenna: It was so sweet of you to invite us over. I hope the secret service guys weren't too rough.

John: Are you kidding?! I've paid for worse. That reminds me. Michael, have you ever...

Michael: No I haven't met Ms. Bush before! It's nice to meet you. Would you like to feel my abs?

Jenna:Um, no thanks. I just got married.

Michael: Oh yeah! To that Willy Wonka lookin' dude right?

John: What's his name again? No matter how many times I read it I can never remember it.

Jenna: You know John...I'm not sure what his first name is and everyone still calls me Jenna Bush. I think my husbands name is something whitebread like...John or Michael! haha, Anyway I just call him 'honey.'

John: I can never remember the names of the men in my life either sweetie.

Michael: I don't really think about names to much. With one exception: Michael F*cking Phelps!

John: Can I touch your abs?

Michael: Ummmmm, so Jenna why did you pick Federal Hill to live in? I picked Fell's Point because that's where the new condo's are being built and several Ravens cheerleaders live nearby.

Jenna: I really like all the history of Federal Hill..

John: History of hating your family! Sorry, I thought that was the obvious joke.

Jenna: It's ok John. Anyways I better get going. Honey will be home and wanting dinner so I need to go let the chef in our house.

Michael: Yeah. I better get going too. I have to film a commercial for Armor All. They want me to lay on a car in my LZ1 and get upholstry cleaner shot on me. Thanks for the tea and brownies.

John: Those weren't brownies......

I promise I tried to find a picture of Michael Phelps with a shirt on. Such a thing does not exist.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Vote For Prez....

I'm not a rock star or actor or anything so that must mean my opinion matters. I feel the need to express myself. I need to tell you why I am going to vote for Barack Obama.

Back in 2003 I remember being on a Spring Break Retreat with Campus Crusade for Christ when the news broke that we had invaded Iraq. I remember watching the footage of Baghdad basically being annihilated. I also remember how I felt: Ecstatic. It was exhilarating to see that we were finally teaching Iraq a lesson about respect. We were proving to them that they couldn't keep jerking us around and being disobedient.

During the day during this retreat we'd study the bible, pray, worship, and do ministry. Then at night I'd wait with anticipation for the fall of Baghdad and the fate of Saddam Hussein. I did not see the disconnect in being a Christian and being aroused by War.

I got caught up in thinking the same thing about Jesus most 1st Century Jews who followed him thought: He has come to set up an earthly kingdom. A force that will FINALLY put our team in the place of power. I have learned that this "Us vs Them" mentality has basically destroyed the Church in Western Civilization. As Christians we should go out into the world as servants: Us FOR Them.

I had gotten caught up in a politicized faith. A national religion. A lie.

I voted for 'W' in 2000 and wanted to do a jig when he won. I remember thinking my parents were stupid for voting for Clinton in '96. By 2004 I really started thinking about what it means to be a Christian in a Democracy. I couldn't vote for more war. More carelessly destructive environmental policies. More ignoring of the needy. More.....intentional indifference.

If you look at the words of Christ he seems to really care about taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, turning your cheek, and "loving your neighbor as yourself." I voted for Kerry in 2004 more out of spite than anything. If 'W' says he is a Christian than why does he not care about these things? That election was a joke anyway. Two fraternity brothers funded by the same people running against each other......don't get me started.

I used to really like John McCain but at this point I can't remember why. Barack Obama to me seems to be serious about helping the sick and poor, being a good steward for the environment, making the difficult and unpopular decisions regarding energy policy and weighing the full cost of sending us into War. These are the things are the most important to me in this election.

There are some arguments that Christians should be disengaged from the political process since it is in effect an endorsement of the kingdom of Man. At the very least I can cast my vote for someone who will bring less death. With all that said, my vote doesn't really matter as long as the Electoral College is in place. The Democratic candidate has won my state by double digit percentage points in the past 4 elections.....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Will Be......

I've been obsessed with this phrase --"Je serai"-- since high school French class.   For some reason it sounded so beautiful and mystical.  I always imagined I would name my expanisive family estate 'Jeserai.'  It would be my Monticello.

I've also always looked to the future with a foolhardy daydreamer mentality.  I've never thought about what 'I am' and been content.  I want more more more!  

Even now I think about what this 'blog' 'will be.'   I imagine it will be a vain experiment that I eventually delete due to lack of interest.   I imagine most blogs turn out like that.