Apple Comes To The Rescue

I don’t know if this is a “Apple” thing, or just a human thing.  But I can’t imagine being in a “Microsoft” store and having the same thing happen.

The day after Christmas I went to the Apple Store.  I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and wanted to use it.  I took my 6 year old son with me, and he headed straight to the little table in front of the Genius Bar where Apple had set up a couple of iMacs with games.   My son seemed happy, so I started looking over the software and other low end items I could afford with the card.

It should be said that the place was fairly packed with people spending their Christmas money on iPods, iPhones and accessories.  I couldn’t find any must have item on the software wall, and was moving to the iPhone accessories…  but my son wasn’t at the computer.  I looked around the best I could and he wasn’t in the store.  I’m about to freak out, when I go up to the Genius Bar and had them page him.

No luck.  Now I’m pretty upset, and I head out front where it was a bit quieter and called the wife to get her to come down to the store and help.  As soon as I’m out front, a group of about 10-15 people joined me.  All had their iPhones out.  “Send me a picture,” the first one said.  “I’ll help you look.”

You read that right.  10-15 people I did not know stepped outside, all wanting me to text or mail or bluetooth them a picture of my son, and they were all ready to go looking for my son around the outdoor mall.  I pulled up a recent photo and was getting numbers to text the picture too, when one of the women asked “Is that him?” and pointed down the way.

There was my son returning from the other end of the mall.  He saw me and ran and grabbed me.

Seems he couldn’t find me and thought I’d left.  He knew his mom was down on the other end, and thought I’d gone down there to her.  But he couldn’t find the store she was in, and was coming back to the Apple store to try and me.

These strangers and their iPhones were ready to come to my aid and find my missing son.  I was moved beyond words.  I’m sure they think that I’m an ungrateful git for not saying more, but the relief was overwhelming.  Needless to say I had a long talk with my son explaining that I would never leave a store without him, and that instead of leaving himself he should have gotten help in the store.  He understands that now.  (In fact, he’s done that in the past, but I think the loud crowd scared him and he felt “safer” out of the store.)

So while I was EXTREMELY nervous for a while, it all turned out great and I saw just how wonderful iPhone users can be.

I do want to stress something, though.  At no time did I think my son had been “taken.”  I didn’t feel the need to rush and grab a cop, or call them, at that time.  I was worried, more worried that he’d fallen in the lake at the mall or stepped into traffic, than that he had been abducted.  For one thing, he’d scream bloody murder, and for another that just so rarely happens.  My fear was finding him before he got so scared or worried that he got hurt.

In fact, he was nicely calm, and taking care of himself.  While he made a “bad” decision, I’m ever so happy he made a decision and acted on it, instead of being unsure of what to do.  Yes, it meant he wandered the length of an outdoor mall all by himself, but he acted.  He made a plan and went with it.  Find Mom.  Can’t find Mom, go back to where Dad was.  Overall, not a bad plan.  Just not the best.

And I got the chance to see how many people still give a damn.  And that was worth the worry.

The Politics of Theology

A friend of mine recently told me that she homechurches.  It was a tongue and cheek response to a complaint I twittered during the latest church business meeting I attended. She also pointed out that being a homechurcher makes her statistically holier than thou. Also we can wear lingerie to mass.

That aside, she brings up an important point.  People experience both Church and God in different way.  It’s very hard to say that someones actions aren’t “Christian” or aren’t “holy” when what you’re really saying is “your view of theology differs from mine.”

Ultimately “Church” is an attempt to convince people that theology you practice is the “right” one.  Clearly we’ve been unsuccessful at it since we haven’t been able to create one “true” church.  So instead we find a church that suits our theology or is persuasive enough to overcome our disagreements.

Finding such a church proved increasingly difficult for my family at the turn of the century.  I didn’t feel a connection to the church I grew up in.  At the same time, I learned I didn’t make a good Methodist, and left the church I’d found a comfortable theology with after the Bishop moved the pastor that attracted us to the church. I intellectually understand the concept of changing the pastors to prevent a cult of personality, but ultimately it is the personality of a church that makes me want to attend.

Ultimately one woman showed my family where we connected the most, and that connection came about because of our similar theology and life situations.  While I no longer attended my home church, I did attend a special Christmas service every year.  It was at one of those services that a new pastor at the church grabbed me and my wife and basically talked us into giving the church another chance.  She managed to do this by connecting with us in a way that no pastor had since my childhood.

That woman is Jana Williams.  She understood the basic anger my wife and I had with God over our inability to conceive a child.  Jana had gone through the same issues and ended up adopting a wonderful girl prior to her arrival at the church.  She’s currently well along in adopting another child.  In that time my wife and I have adopted two children of our own, and so we have much in common personally and thankfully theologically with Jana.

Since I gave up on my childhood church the entire staff had changed.  None of the pastors of my youth still lead the church.  In fact, one of my youth group members is now on staff at the church as a minister.  So I’m happy to find that with the change of staff my old home has become my new church home.

I’ve gone into this detail for a reason.  It’s important to realize that I did search for a home.  While I may be in my childhood home, it isn’t out of habit or comfort.  Many of the same disconnect issues are there, but I ignore them because the theology and the people mean more to me.  And Jana and her husband, who is also a minister at the church, mean more to me.

As a rule, I don’t like politics.  I used to think politics was everything, but now I loath it.  Personally I think all politicians are crooked and worthless and I don’t care if they are elephants or asses.  This dislike extends all the way to church politics, a topic I’ve ignored for years.  Until recently.

I’d heard rumblings of dislike surrounding the politics of my church for a couple of years.  I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t want to know.  I don’t know or care what cliques are present in the church.  I attend for the theology and the opportunity for my children to be exposed to what I think is a good and healthy view of church and Christ. But now I’m thinking I’m going to have to rethink my self imposed ignorance.

One of the ways I serve my church is to participate in duties as one of the sound techs for the services.  It’s a skill I have, so using it for the good of the church is easy.  This past week was my week for duty, and normally that is no problem.  Except that this Wednesday night was a business meeting.  Church business.  Which is really just another way of saying Church Politics.

Since I was not up to speed on the political maneuvers of the church, I wasn’t really prepared for the onslaught of new “policies” from the “personnel committee.”  I’m still unclear as to what prompted the four proposals for policy changes that were introduced.  At least one of them seemed to be specifically aimed at hurting the people who mean so much to me at the church.  The Williams.

I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly how the decisions of the personnel committee came to be.  What disturbs me is that they don’t seem to match what I view the church’s theology and tradition to be.

Jana had a brilliant and exciting study idea, and requested a study leave to pursue it.  I was to help her with it and had gotten quite excited about it and bombarded her with emails and suggestions on how to go about studying it.  Then she stopped asking me questions and stopped talking about it.  I just thought I’d come on to strong so I didn’t ask any questions, but it turned out the Personnel committee had denied her study leave.

They did, however, approve her husband’s leave.  Seems some on the committee didn’t like the idea that two pastors would take study leave at the same time.  Never mind that they are married.  Never mind that NOT taking the leave together increased the burden and difficulty of the leave and never mind that the study plan of one of them would really impact the church.  No, they just couldn’t possibly take leave at the same time, even though they planned the leave for the time when it would impact the church the least.

Whatever the reasoning behind this, I can not believe it is coincidental that the committee chose to propose a change to the leave policy of the church immediately following their denial of Jana’s study leave.  In the past the policy was at the discretion of the senior pastor.  But now, the personnel committee wanted to be involved in any decision regarding leave that would make two ministers have overlapping leave of more than a week.

This would mean any time Jana and her husband decided to take a vacation of more than a week they would have to justify and explain their plans to the approval of the personnel committee.  A cruise, to visit family, to go drink margaritas on the beach had to have the explicit approval of this committee.  (I’m not suggesting that Jana drinks.  She is a baptist preacher after all)

And I’m supposed to believe that they didn’t attempt to institute this policy immediatly following the denial of Jana’s request to take two months leave with her husband?

Now how fair would it be to you if you had to justify your leave request with your HR department every single time you wanted to leave?  Your supervisor would no longer be allowed to approve accrued leave that you had already earned, but instead had to pass on your request to the HR department.  Most of us would be quite upset with that kind of arrangement, but that is exactly what happened here.

Personally I found it a slap in the face to the senior pastor and an unfair burden to our only married staff members.  It was almost a vote of no confidence by the committee in our senior pastors ability to manage his staff.  Either that, or a slap in the face of the only married staffers.  Either way, it isn’t a nice way to run your business.  Your church business.

Thankfully the policy as written didn’t pass.  Instead, the policy was amended at the meeting to allow the senior pastor the authority to approve leave for up to three weeks of overlapping leave.  I’d rather have had the entire policy done away with, but at least it was significantly weakened prior to passing.

So now I’m at a crossroads.  I can no longer be blind to the politics at the church, nor can I assume that they aren’t intended to hurt someone.  Or at least, if not intended to hurt, then not enough thought went into them about how they would really effect real people.  And something in MY theology says that’s not right.  So now I’m left to decide if this church and my theology really do mesh.

I was happier when I was ignorant.  Isn’t there a saying about that?

New phone

So I got a new iPhone today. I am just now figuring it all out, but so far I am totally in love with it. Typing on it I’d getting easier and quicker and the correction feature makes it nice when it does figure out what you meant instead of what you blondered with your giant fingers.

I even managed to post this via the phone. Cool huh?

The photo below is the boy last year at this time.