>mary, did you know?

>I’ll be honest, Christmas comes and Christmas goes and rarely do i sit back and consider Jesus’ birth and its importance in my life. i guess it all seems a bit redundant for me. not that redundancy is a bad thing, but when it is your 20th Christmas as a Christian, the whole message of Jesus’ birth becomes a little desensitized. wise men, shepherds, Virgin birth, frankincense, manger, no room in the inn…I’ve heard it.

but i realized something this evening at the Christmas Eve service at Hillcrest. the thought of Jesus’ importance in my life? how selfish and egotistical of me. every year i seem to shrug my shoulders and nod my head during the Christmas season; i listen to the same story and then move on. but i realized for the first time tonight the implications Christ’s birth had for the world.

there is no man who has ever shaken the world like Jesus did. in the course of 2000 years, more books have been written about Jesus than any other subject in history. this dude comes into the world and is such a big deal that they change time to be based around him. what would this earth look like without Jesus? drastically different that’s for sure. Christ comes into the world and suddenly everything changes.

think about September 11. think about where you were and what you were doing. did you see the second plane fly in like i did? the greatest country on earth got sucker punched and we all felt its repercussions. just think about how that shattered our world and how it has changed each of our lives since. i watched “Sleepless in Seattle” the other night; it shows a glorious shot of the Twin Towers in NYC, and i couldn’t help but let out a sigh. just the mention of the event changes the mood in a room. huge event.

now think about Christmas morning. how big of a deal is that? granted Sept. 11 brings about primarily negative connotations and Christmas tends to stimulate more positive feelings, but think about their magnitude of effect on the world comparatively. which one is the bigger deal? not to make light of the attacks, because they were enormously devastating to this country, but lets be honest here. Clearly, Jesus’ birth has had an immeasurably greater effect on this planet, yet is that the attitude we give it? is that how we treat such a ‘big deal’ in our world? do we truly see Christmas as the number one most earth-shattering event in human history? i don’t think so. yeah, we all get excited, and, yeah, it changes everyone’s spirit for a month, but when it boils down to it do we really treat this holiday with the reverence and importance it deserves? September 11 at least is acknowledged with a moment of silence at basically every institution nationwide. i feel like Jesus fails to even get that. it is gifts and travel and sleigh bells and candy, but whats the point?

the point is that nothing has ever shaped anything as much as Christmas has shaped this planet. and you can take that to the bank.

may you have a merry, as well as meaningful, Christmas this year. and for something completely different, i just might do the same.

ap.

>christmastimeish

>my family, being the anxious American family that we are, have actually succeeded in moving the gift unwrapping as far forward as Christmas Eve Eve. each year the Cooper family manages to play the “lets unwrap a gift the night before” game. its fun. it used to be my sisters and i pressuring to open a gift or two, but nowadays i feel like my parents are way too excited and end up offering the option instead of us pleading for such an opportunity.

usually i go for the cd-shaped ones when these opportunities present themselves because then it gives me a chance to listen to it before getting in the car for trips to visit relatives in nearby states. i guess i usually do get to listen to it in the car on the way. my family has this wonderful characteristic where we all like country music. all but me that is. i can handle Garth Brooks…but thats about it. they all dig the “pop country crap” (read Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney). so usually we get about 30 miles out of town and the radio/cd gets turned up, and, naturally, i open a book and pop in the earbuds. only tough part – i usually get multiple cds for christmas cause the list i provide my family with at the beginning of the holiday season always turns out to be about 90% music. so unless i jump on the music early i never give it the listening time it deserves.

the first cd in my holiday music staggering is John Legend’s second cd “Once Again”. i’m typing to it right now – i’m on track 5 of 13 and i’m lovin it. equally as great as his first cd thus far.

in probably more shocking and controversial news: i got a new hat a few days ago. for those that are familiar with me and my skinny punk style you are already aware of the magnatude of such news. for those not familiar: i will start by informing you that i have had the same st. louis cardinals baseball cap since Christmas 2002. not a day went by for about three and a half years that i didn’t wear that hat. finally this past summer i won some new hats doing the speed pitch at Worlds of Fun. you get three pitches and on the third throw you have to guess your speed based on the speeds of the two proceding pitches. i used to pitch in high school, so i’ve got a pretty decent grasp on my abilities. turns out i’m a speed pitch natural and i’ve managed four hats in five attempts playing that game in my lifetime. chronologically: bluejays, royals, indians, orioles. i started rotating these hats into my daily routine throughout the summer, and i officially retired my old cardinals hat at the beginning of the fall semester. but then the cardinals won the World Series and i just have to rep my team, so it has been out of retirement for the couple of months.

so i’m trying out a new cards hat now. it is read and white with the old school emblem on teh front. and it says has a 1982 on the back. awesome. its different for me and i’m out on a limb even attempting such a feat. hopefully i’ll grow an attachment.

ps. a buddy of mine tossed this video my way so i figured i’d pass it on. its kinda sorta maybe funny til about the 4 minute mark or so, then it gets really incredible/hilarious.


pss. i think this dude looks like Ryan on the Office. love that show.

-ap.

>anxious.

>right now i’m stuggling with a number of unsettled issues in my life. some big and some not-so-big, but they’re unsetted nonetheless. i don’t really want to dive into them now cause i don’t necessarily want this blog to ever be an inlet to my personal life, but i will say that there are situations right now that i am so ready to have resolved. in the past i’ve been really good about not letting the future enter my thoughts. i haven’t wanted to worry about it and i haven’t really needed to worry, but recently i’ve been so nervous about my future for some reason. maybe it is a good thing? i guess the future can motivate you to succeed, but i’m so wary to get sucked into “future” mode. college. money. internships. career….and females. where am i going and how do i get there? what is my plan? if you dont have a plan then you’re lost, or so it seems. these things are dominating my thoughts out of nowhere. they haven’t ever seriously haunted me before and suddenly i’m obsessed. there is more to life than all of these. i know it.

lately i’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety/anxiousness in life. i’ve noticed lately that humans in general are very anxious people. i haven’t yet decided whether or not it is an American thing or whether it is in the human condition to be so anxious about life. i suspect it is both, i’m just not sure of the quantity of each. could be 5 parts America 2 parts humans. could be 1 part America 10 parts humans.

it seems like we are always so ready for something else to happen. anxious for the next thing in our life to arrive so we aren’t so bored with the uneventful status quo. i will concede that there are certain times in life where one can truly not be enjoying themselves and may be ready for a change of scenery and/or situation (take finals week for instance), but i do feel that there is a greater issue with our society. we seem to never be comfortable where we are; nah, never just can’t be true (just like on multiple choice exams); i’ll play it safe and go with rarely instead.

we seem to rarely be comfortable with where we are in life. we’re always eager to tackle the next issue and conquer the next event. the phrase “stop to smell the roses” just popped into my head and i think it fits in this. i feel like we’re determined to live life like we’re climbing staircase after staircase as high up as we can go. we make it up one level and we’re ready to go up the next one in pursuit of where ever each of our lives is leading us.

i guess i do feel like this is heightened in America quite a bit. i feel like here in the US people rarely (if ever) want to stop the climb up the stairs. take the next job, work for the pay raise, strive to make it as high up as you can in life. dave and i were talking today about how people (in the kc/johnson county area, at least) find it almost embarassing to admit that they’re attending johnson county community college. JCCC is the number one junior college in the US and people all over would be thrilled to go there, but i always hear the phrases, “well, i’m at Juco right now,” or, “i’m getting my Gen Eds taken care of at JCCC right now.” people always add in the “right now” at the end so they can make sure that the person they’re talking to knows that JCCC is NOT their ultimate goal. upon the use of “right now” the speaker immediately admits that they are looking to move on; they’re anxious; they’re ready to finish the ‘Juco staircase’ and move on to the ‘State School staircase’. just an example.

i do feel like we’re all in too much of a hurry to get somewhere. sometimes we dont even know where “somewhere” is. i feel like God has given everyone amazing situations every day, but i feel like we’re so hell-bent on going up/forward that we fail to realize the moment we’ve got right in front of us. we need to ‘stop and smell the roses’ for a change, or at least stop and check out what is on the floors between each of the staircases. why doesn’t it ever occur to us that the status quo is okay? maybe the better life we strive for isn’t the next floor up, but maybe its just a different outlook of the floor you’re currently on. maybe we need to change the present instead go streaking into the future.

i need to slow down. take a deep breath and just enjoy. i am now, and i’m going to take advantage of now. at least i’m going to try. i’ve been trying to shed this for a while though and it isnt so simple.

>whoa. bald eagle.

>this morning i helped my buddy dave move out of his apartment in lawrence. after we’d moved everything out, vaccuumed, Windexed and he’d checked out with his landlord, we started driving back to kc. when we were about 5 miles out of lawrence dave, in mid-sentence let go of the wheel and, nearly smacking me in the mouth, pointed out the passenger window and said something to the effect of, “oh my – are you serious – its a – what – no – was that a BALD EAGLE?”

my immediate thoughts were that he was trying to get me all worked up about something stupid, but when he pulled off at the next exit to turn around i started to get a bit excited too. sure enough, sitting in a tree about thirty feet from K-10 was a freaking bald eagle. we thought it might’ve been fake at first cause it was too amazing to be true. dave hit the hazards and i rolled down my window as we pulled over to watch it. it sat there surveying the area for about 10 seconds then (i think we might’ve startled it) it flew away.

i’d never seen a bald eagle somewhere other than a zoo before, and it blew me away. what an incredible creature. it sat about two feet high, but when it spread its wings…oh wow. probably a 5-6 foot wingspan. what a monster bird. we just watched in absolute wonder as the thing flapped away until we could no longer see it. seirously incredible.

as amazing the creature was, i think it was equally as strange to see the thing in KANSAS. dave and i figured it might be taking a winter vacation to lower elevations where it wouldn’t have to exert itself as much. you know. thicker air. plus eagles build their nests on like 200 foot high cliffs and trees, so what a getaway to be able to live on the hills of kansas where he could relax and just glide along and never have to worry about working up the side of a mountain. talk about paradise.

we then proceded to take our inspiring day to Rosedale where we sucked enough at disc golf to make it an all around average morning.

-ap.

and i was 1 minute off from writing this at 11:11. buzzkill? eh. i guess.

>cnn: anderson cooper special

>i just got done watching Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. they ran a special called “What is a Christian?” basically a look at different Christians in different areas of the US and their varying views regarding politics. it was pretty legit i thought. they focused primarily on political issues and how they land with different Christian groups across the US. They mentioned a number of different Christian groups: a seemingly left-winged Oregonian church highly motivated to take care of the environment, a radical ‘fire and brimstone’ church in Ohio, an Evangelical/Jewish blend in Dallas called Christian Zionism driven to protect Israel from the ‘end of days’, capitalistic mega-churches in Houston and Atlanta, an all-faiths Unitarian Church in D.C., and the segment also mentioned the current youth movement that is emerging. They were all covered extremely well i thought and, if anything, brought some incredible insight to how drastically different Christians can be from Christian to Christian (such a nominalistic term nowadays, almost worthless really).

the Christian Zionist Church hosts a number of Jews in their congregation – possibly the majority. this one confused me. the CZ’s are very certain that John’s account of Revelation is going to come true and that an epic battle of Good vs Evil, God vs Satan is going to take place in Jerusalem, and that it is already beginning. however, the vast Jewish membership was what baffled me. they are still waiting on the Messiah and do not follow the New Testament…of which Revelation is a part of. strange. help me out if you can.

anyway. i agreed and disagreed with each one of them in different ways. I’m a pretty firm believer of what i’ve naively dubbed ‘Middle Groundism’. (seeing that every other belief and/or stance must have its categorical ism i felt i should follow suit.) personally, i think extremes are ridiculous. i’m a political moderate due to both a disposition towards extremes and a lack of knowledge of politics in general; however, i feel rather confident that discretional open-mindedness is the best policy. i applied this belief while i watched each of these churches explain what they were about, and i was able to come away with yes’s and no’s on the theologies of each. except one troubled me more than the others:

both Joel Osteen’s ‘capitalistic’ mega-church in Houston (the largest church in the nation) and Creflo Dollar’s even more financially driven mega-church in Atlanta are preaching the so-called Prosperity Gospel. here’s a YouTube video of the capitalistic churches section of the show:


it irks me every time. praying for benefits? bonuses? thats all well in good to some extent and one could present Matthew 7:7 where it says to “ask and it shall be given to you.” again. discretional open-mindedness folks. but the section that truly – i’ll be honest – pissed me off, was Dollar’s quote in front of 29,000 people: “the Word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth.” the poor are cursed and they will find riches if they believe. a terrific metaphor, yes, but literal? wow. during the discussion session later in the segment, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention, puts it nicely: “the idea that we can reduce God’s blessings and define them as material things and as material well beings is blasphemous.” prosperity is to be hoped for, but expected? that not only is Jim Wallis, author of the book God’s Politics and founder of the Sojourners movement says in the same discussion that “God does not mind prosperity as long as it is shared, but inequality makes God mad.”

the interview session brought me a little bit of comfort knowing that this wealth-driven ‘Gospel’ is refuted. if Wallis and Land let that go untouched it sends some seriously incorrect messages. God isn’t sitting back letting the poorer get poorer and the richer get richer no matter if they’re His people or not. storing ‘treasures in Heaven’ not treasures on earth. He’s not hanging out up in Heaven making Non-Christians suffer in poverty nor has He any intent on showering Christians with material blessings. I’m glad that the subject of finances was addressed.

i dunno. just my thoughts on the program.

if you haven’t watched the whole thing and you want to, it is on YouTube in eight parts:
(the segment above is part 5 and the interview i mentioned is part 7.)

parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

-ap.

>lets face it…

>Joe Posnanski wrote potentially the most depressing article Kansas Citians have ever read yesterday in the KC Star. It was on the cover of the sports page, directly under the article about LJ bashing (rightfully so, i think) the Chiefs’ play calling. the article was entitled “let’s face it — Chiefs aren’t that good.” that enough is enough to get the entire midwest writhing with anger, the graphic pictured above it was even more shocking. it was a depressing shot of five nfl players from five different teams: the five teams that have only made the playoffs once in the last nine years (excluding expansion teams added since 1997). check out our company:

Detriot Lions.
Cleveland Browns.
Arizona Cardinals.
Cincinnatti Bengals.
and the Kansas City Chiefs.

i mean come on. thats pathetic. we’re in with THEM? they’re the bottomdwellers! they’re the laughing stocks of the NFL (with the exception of the Bengals as of late, but how worthless were they before, huh?) what sad company. i could throw down every excuse there is about the Chiefs in their defense: the fact that they had the best defense in the league in the mid 90’s with Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith which then morphed into the #1 offense in the league the last three years under Dick Vermeil, the fact that their overall record through those 9 years is over 20 wins better than any of those other four teams, the fact that they’ve dominated Pro Bowl selections throughout those years, but still one pathetic fact remains: the Kansas City hasn’t won a playoff game since 1994. they beat the Houston Oilers (not even a team anymore) in AFC Divisional game that year. it has been twelve years since KC won a playoff game, yet still, somehow, Kansas City comes to a near stop between 12 and 3 on Sundays. Chiefs fans are as obsessed as ever about the home team. Arrowhead Stadium has sold out an NFL record 138 consecutive times (dating back to the beginning of the 1990 season). Kansas City simply has a Tomahawk aura about it that never goes away. Go into any resturaunt in KC and yell, “Go Broncos! or Go Raiders!” — the record stops and if you’re not unconscience in the next few seconds its either because you’re Maurice Green or because the resturaunt was empty due to a shortage of bagels.

we’ve never had a pathetic season. look at the Chiefs’ overall record in that span compared to the others. KC has had one 6-10 season. other than that they’ve been between 7-9 and 13-3 the last 9 seasons. and only one playoff game. back in the early 90s the Chiefs and Len Elliott used to just be a crappy playoff team. they’d dominate the regular season and then choke in the playoffs (much like the Colts today), but as of late the Chiefs had slipped to being a just-miss-the-playoffs team each year. i only hope they don’t continue their slide.

but maybe they need to continue their slide. their consistant medicrity has landed them absolutely nothing in the Draft. when you have a draft choice in the 20s every year you’re not going to be able to build a team. our overall morale is high since we’ve never had a 3-13, 4-12, 2-14 season, but where are we headed? not to the playoffs. that’s for sure.

I love the Chiefs. They make or break my fall and winter weekends. They control my days on Sundays. They’re half my motivation for waking up (the other half being Jesus). sacrilegious? probably. But that’s another issue. i’m just tired of Monday Night Football being a reminder of how worthless the weekend was. cmon chiefs. man up. i’m sick of being frustrated. show up next year like you did in 2003.

and dante – please do something great.

-ap.

>panera "bread"

>today i stopped by hillcrest covenant church and got caught up in my old job. after an hour of catching up with old co-workers (well. not all old…former would be a better word) i ended up tagging along to help lead a middle school after school bible study at the panera bread in corinth.

i got there and a middle schooler sat down in his typically lazy and unmotivated fashion and proceded to whine about the fact that they were out of bagels. now this student (who will remain nameless, but if you have been involved in one of these middle school studies before you may know what student i am talking about) is notorious for screwing around – his favorite game is the “high five, down low, too slow” game (which is fun for no one but himself), he constantly dabbles in other people’s buisness solely to annoy you, and making up some story about panera being out of bagels would be a very typical maneuver on his part.

so, naturally, i called his bluff. i turned around and looked up at the bakery where they have their Wall o’ Bagel Baskets and found that not only were every single one of the baskets empty, but that the remaining bread on the entire wall consisted of two loaves of rye, about 3 or 4 french baguettes, and a couple sourdough bread bowls.

i was pretty much in shock. thats like mcdonalds running out of fries. no, worse. thats like krispy kreme running out of donuts, or dairy queen running out of ice cream. ridiculous. the word “bread” is in your resturaunt name!

the smug middle schooler dropped a, “told you.”

-ap.