Monday, November 30, 2009

Because Journalism Is Dead But Jesus Isn't: The "Side-hug" Smear

It started for me when a friend I work with posted this on Facebook:

The link was to a blog post a blog called "The Huffington Post", believed by many to be the most influential, if not the most influential, blog on the internet.

The post, reprinted here in its entirety, was written with a sneering tone that bugged me. Oh, did I tell you that The Huffington Post is a haven for bad reporting and liberals?

The post:
"Christian youth groups finally have an alternative to normal, aka "front," hugs. As we all know, face to face embraces run the horrific risk of a clothed crotch graze. The Christian Side-Hug (or the CSH, as the kids call it) rids us of sin, as the only below the belt contact will be some good old-fashioned hip on hip action.

To help the side-hug fad sweep the nation, let us present this hardcore rap song. Yup, side-hugging has hit the streets. The group has as many emcees as the Wu-Tang Clan and as much power as a barbershop quartet.

Look out for the ominous sirens blasting on the track. Clearly, these are gangsters on the run from the law - probably from side-hugging up a storm! One emcee (wearing his bandanna 2pac-style no less) admits to taking part in the forbidden front-hug. But don't worry, God. He's married.

At the end, they all simulate getting shot and dying. We can only hope there are side-hugs in heaven. "

Honestly, I couldn't make out all of the lyrics, so I googled the name of the video, and got this:

Entry after entry, page after page, of bloggers commenting on the video. And literally all of the entries for the first several pages were people ripping Christians and Christian music.

From "The Sexist":

The Sexist: Sex and Gender in the District
Beyond DC
The Christian Side-Hug: “Front Hugs Be Too Sinful”

Posted by Amanda Hess on Nov. 23, 2009, at 9:56 am

"Attention, Christian kids: If you like not having sex, not speaking the Lord’s name in vain, and not being gay, then you’ll love the newest trend in policing typical adolescent behaviors in the name of God. It’s called the The Christian Side-Hug, and it’s here to help the devout avoid the temptation of full frontal hugging. Don’t worry—it’s cool, because they made a “rap” song about it.

According to Stuff Christians Like, there’s no “exact scripture reference” banning normal hugging. But the Side-Hug does significantly lower the “risk of two crotches touching,” which has got to be in the Bible somewhere. Here’s how you do it:

Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their’s. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you’re taking a photo and you’re both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy.

The Christian Side-Hug strikes me as almost skeezily chaste—I’d much rather have a brief normal embrace with a stranger than a hip-tap from a person who I know sexualizes even the most mundane forms of human contact. But the Side-Hug itself is slightly less offensive than the medium being used to promote it: An appropriated version of “rap music” performed by a bunch of white youth pastors who think that mixing in some gang-ish hand signals, tying on a bandana, and securing some fake bling will bring the youth to God.

The Christian Side-Hug rap comes courtesy of the Encounter Generation Conference, an annual Christian youth gathering which hopes to “bring the power, authenticity, and relevance of Jesus Christ to their culture.” I’m afraid that this potent combination of absurd chastity and mock hip-hop will be more likely to bring the power of a school-yard beat-down to these kids’ faces."

Commenters on blogs like this had about as awful - to significantly worse - things to say. Most ripped Christians and Christianity and Jesus. Some called this "Christian rap."

It was early Thanksgiving Morning. But I was incensed, a little defensive. Christian music has saved my life. And, I think I can comment to some degree as a professional who works in a media industry: the music and the musicians are largely gifted people. The comments were so scathing...and the video itself was too...odd.

I put my headphones on and listened. It was then that I heard the audience laughing pretty much throughout the video.

I decided to commit a FLAGRANT ACT OF JOURNALISM.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving in Teia's Eyes

Great, amazing pictures.

Thanksgiving 2009


A long, long time - some 30 years ago, I was friends with a guy named GT. George Theodore Ballance, a big kid with a round face. GT played on the offensive line for our flag football team, truly found himself in the play, and knew how to pray with great fervor.

I said goodbye to GT midway through our 8th grade year when I moved away. We reconnected on Facebook a few months ago when I found a "GT Ballance Jr" online. We exchanged pleasantries, and then he told me his dad actually was on Facebook using his wrestling name. Seemed like GT had continued to be an athlete and dynamic performer.

GT and talked and shared via messages about his son and life and beautiful wife. Just a few weeks after we started talking, his wife was killed in a car accident. Age 32. She loved the Lord, and her husband, and now I see him walking a life of faith and tears. Yesterday's trip to the mall with Jr. ended up with some fun and three breakdowns. Pretty good for him, he commented.

GT can mean something to you and me. Give Thanks. For the remarkable blessing we have that we EXPECT - the time spent with those we love. Please don't waste a moment today. Tell those you love you love them. GT.


We traveled home this Thanksgiving for the first time in years.

A year ago, Jen and I were holed up in a room in Children's, praying for Zoe. This year, we were able to show her both her mom and Dad's families. At Jen's Thanksgiving, Terry, Josh and Jen acted out scenes from "A Christmas Carol" with great vigor. The food was marvelous and better still was this family, who through it all, has insisted on being a family.

We then drove up north to Bat and Christa's. I don't think it would surprise you to know that there were three floors of activity and conversation, waves of eating. I think the two most interesting dynamics are the huge number of grandchildren who play and talk and interact without thinking of the uniqueness of their relationship; and the fact that we're all old now. I'm not. But Erin is. Also, Heidi just revealed that she is only seven years younger than David Hasselhoff, which set off a chain of comparisons.

Bat and I talked briefly at how impactful the five short years we spent in New Orleans were. All of us recall those years as foundational and a true part of our personality. And the people all recall us and Bat with love. He told me that he's just honored to have been used by God.

To be able to spend time with my dad and to fight Zoe all night. To have beautiful, remarkable young ladies who are kids like Iz and Teia. To see Kellen towering over the group, quietly iTouching. To make a mindless bunch of jokes with my brother. Christa offering 10 pies after dinner. Selah and Elise free to play with cousins. Goofing around and cutting down a 20.00 tree at the ol' tree farm. A very, very Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I nominate for heroes - true saints - anyone who has turned their life, their dreams, their gifts, their time, their marriage, their relationships, their hobbies, their desires over, abandoned them so that they can care for another person.

For the first time in months I accidentally spied this blog's traffic. It's down a ton, and that's because I'm not writing anything.

There are two reasons: if I write something, that means someone can use it against me. "I thought you said in your blog Ethan had fever," said one reader. "Why don't you just write about this in your blog," sneered another about a year ago.

The other reason is that I'm spent. I'm working and working and working. My work is fighting for survival in a tough economy, and I receive a lot of pressure to succeed, to bill lots of time, to acquire new business. So I do. I left work last night at 8:30 pm and left for work at 5:20 am. My reward for working that hard is that I get to keep my job.

But when I got home last night after stopping at the drugstore for medicine for my poor Aidan who's sick, my sainted wife was exhausted from her long day of holding serve with 8 children, one of whom is a special needs kid which by herself is a 24/7 job. A special needs kid who has an undetermined future, an undetermined group of future needs. Who may or may not talk. Or sign. Or walk. Or live.

The others - the older three, for example - have needs. Kellen has both of his toes worked on and needs a permanent solution applied there somewhere during the hoops season. Isabel just had three teeth removed and next week her final stages of braces. Eventually, she'll need another four teeth removed. Teia wants to get to Green Bay to meet with cousins. Those are typical, average, everyday needs.

And it means that when Jen is concerned about how she's in day 3 of a headache that includes her neck and back, she knows she can't afford a co-pay, not this year. Maybe January. For now, the co-pays go for Kellen's feet, Izzi's teeth, and to the urgent care for little Aidan, who had 103 fever last night.

1:30 Jen begged for three hours of sleep. I tried. At hour 2.5 I had drifted off, and Zoe threw up all over the bed, herself. Everybody up, everybody out. Clean off the bed, lay something on it. I'm looking anxiously at the clock knowing I have to be up at 5.

3:30 Jen's up and angry, emotional. She left the baby wipes in the car and has to go out in the 20 degree weather for them. She's slamming things and flops on the bed and I stir. I'll be up in 1.5 hours.

5:00 Zoe is still up. She's crying. Not sure why, maybe because it's the end of her nocturnal day. Maybe something else. She can't communicate like any other 19 month old so we wonder if she's hungry? Empty stomach from evacuating it hours before? Are we even awake and rational enough to decide?

7:00 I'm here at work and have been for an hour. I have three projects due today. Tonight will be no different, except Jen works, then comes home. This will never end. We hope it doesn't, because if it does, then something happened to Zoe.

We are nothing special. We're just burned out and tired and there's honestly no hope. Date night? Why? We're so tired and broke. We are poorer than we ever have been. I work so many hours I can't take on another job. I will not get a bonus from an employer that's struggling to stay afloat.

And I know I'm not the only parent or child like this. There are so many heroes out there. I wish I could hug you all. Jen and I both wish and hope we'll win a lottery so we can help you all. Your sacrifice, heroes, goes unnoticed, I think, even by yourself. I pray for you. Pray for your strength. A glimmer of hope somewhere, somehow. Maybe some sleep.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Song of Hope

Our whole family had a wonderful time at the concert last night. Robbie was warm and wonderful to everyone. We received some huge, warm hugs from him and he mentioned what we noticed...that when he saw Zoe during the show, he was really moved.

Zoe slept through Caleb and Will Franklin Chapman, and Bethany Dillon. Robbie was last, loudest, and had the most lights, so she woke to a wonderworld of lights and sound. And didn't make a peep. Maybe she recognized the music.

I have a wonderful video of Bethany singing my absolutely favorite Bethany song. I do not have a similar video of Robbie because I was crying during that song.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bethany Dillon=amazing. Just brilliant. Video to follow.
Will and Caleb Chapman=real deal. Impressive. Really mature sound.
So excited. Robbie Seay concert! Gave him a hug this morning. Both of Steven Curtis Chapman's sons are here, too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


The water is raging boiling and I pour a couple of cups of rotini into the bowl. Seven minutes it will be perfect, maybe with a touch of oil. It wasn't until I stirred the pot with my fork in a way I've heard before - hundreds of times. I'm eating my dad's meal.

I'm instantly proud. And longing to call him and tell him that maybe I'm a little like him. I did learn something. First thing tomorrow.

Crystal Clear

Zoe visited the doc today and a chest x-ray showed her lungs clearer than in August. Now we can all take a sigh of relief.

Jen and I are just worried about how quickly the flu can overtake s little one like Z. It makes for sleepless nights and tension...Jen was worried that Z was receiving the correct amount of meds. You wear it all inside and it wears you.

Ding! Sparkly x-rays tend to get you out of the funk.


Two weeks ago, I stood in 40 degree temperatures with hundreds - by my estimation, over a thousand people - waiting for an H1N1 flu shot. It's that important to our house, to Zoe. Selah, too is considered high risk.

The flu came anyway. Ethan, now Aidan. Izzi was coughing and ill. Zoe had fever on Friday but the doctors told us her respiratory sounded clear. It didn't this morning.

It's a helpless feeling. We've dropped lots of money on the hand gel and lots of the air/surface disinfectant. We quarantined the sick kids to rooms far from the general living area. We're pretty sure that exposure is happening outside our homes - maybe even at the site of the flu shots.

Add that to the list of things - money and health lead the list - of things I'm helpless to correct or heal in my house. It's easy to lose hope.


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