Saturday, August 23, 2008

Death of My Father

On Thursday, when our mission team was preparing to leave Tanzania, I found out that my father (David Allen Broward) had died the day before. We continued to the airport, and I traveled with the team to Dubai. From Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates, north east of Saudi Arabia) I got a direct flight to Houston. Sarah and Emma arrived a few hours later.
The funeral will be on Tuesday, and friends and family will be able to come to a local funeral home on Monday night for "visitation." As of now, Sarah, Emma, and I are scheduled to be here in Houston for two weeks, but I may have to stay one more week. It depends on how long it takes to get things settled here.
All of my Dad's siblings (two sisters and a brother) and my Mom's cousin are already here. Lots of other family will be coming over the weekend. Two people from church have already brought food over. We have lots of help and support.
My Dad was 64 years old. He seemed to be in good health before. He walked 3 miles a few days before he died. He was shopping at a book store and passed out (possibly because of a brain aneurism). When he passed out, he hit his head hard enough to break or fracture his skull. He died from bleeding in his brain. It seems like either the fall caused the bleeding or the bleeding caused the fall - or maybe some of both. Either way, he was brain dead in 24 hours.
He was kept on life support for another day and a half, so that his organs could be donated. This was important for Dad. He wanted people to use every part of him that could be used. He donated both kidneys, his liver, his cornea, his pancreas (used for a medical study), and quite a bit of skin (probably to be used for burn victims).
For right now, I'm just kind of numb. I intentionally pushed everything aside while I was traveling. I just didn't want to grieve in public at the airport, but the grief taking its time in coming back to the surface of my life. I broke down a little when we drove into my hometown and I realized that I'd never see Dad here again. But that's pretty much the only time I've really cried since right after I found out. I guess there will be plenty of time for that over the next two weeks.

I'll post more later about the funeral. Please don't send flowers. Dad wouldn't have wanted that. I'll post later about some scholarships and memorial funds the family has set up. That is definitely how Dad would have wanted people to show their respects.
I'll also post later some of my memories of my Dad.
Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tanzania Trip in Progress

We are now in Tanzania. I won't be able to post much for the next few weeks due to computer and internet limitations. However, you can get updates about our trip and the latest pictures at our team blogsite

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Greatest Movie #1 (Citizen Kane) and #5 (Singing in the Rain)

Our friends Terry and Anne Cave have a treasure trove of great movies, maybe 30 or more of the top 100. Terry started us off Friday with two from the top: Citizen Kane and Singin' in the Rain.
Surprisingly, we liked Singin' in the Rain much better than Citizen Kane. I would have to concur with Terry. Citizen Kane is a movie people respect more than they like. It tells the story of a boy thrust into riches. He grows into a man who gets whatever he wants whenever he wants it. He collects and collects for the sheer joy of possession. He lives the life of ultimate selfishness. Finally, he dies alone and emotionally destitute surrounded by his stuff. In this respect, it shows the extreme cost of selfishness and materialism. However, over all, I didn't find the movie all that satisfying. I'll give it 3j's.

On the other hand, Sarah and I (and Emma too) enjoyed Singin' in the Rain. I expected to be disappointed because I'm usually not all that fond of musicals. Maybe I was partly relieved to see an uplifting movie after the epic of self-destruction (Citizen Kane). However, I enjoyed most of the musicals, a bit cheesy at times, but over all enjoyable. The dancing was kind of amazing too. Donald O'Connor, who was Gene Kelly's sidekick, was basically a 1950's singing and dancing Jim Carrey. The story line was definitely old school, but some how it worked for me.

I wonder how much of my opinion of these movies is based on my personal mood when I watch them? I'm not sure, but anyhow, I'll give Singin' in the Rain a solid 4js.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Missional Living - Brian McClaren

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Finding Our Way Again by Brian McClaren, and one quote in it seemed especially meaningful. I want to record that here and maybe generate some discussion. I'm sure this will make it into a sermon eventually.

... the kind of person who wants to participate in the healing of the world is very different from the kind of person who wants to leave this world behind so she can go to a better one. That difference deserves a bit of additional reflection.

If your goal is to produce firefighters and rescue workers, you have to produce people willing to enter burning buildings. They do this not because they love fire but because they hate it, and they despise the damage it can do to people and their dreams. Their hatred of fire and their love of safety draws them toward fire and danger. Contrast this to two other kinds of people: pyromaniacs (or arsonists) and pyrophobes. Pyromaniacs love fires and the damage they cause, and so start them. Pyrophobes fear fires and avoid them at any cost.

Similarly if your goal is to produce doctors and health care workers, you have to produce people willing to get close to disease. They do this not because they love disease, but because they hate it and they despise the damage that disease can do to people and their dreams. Their hatred of disease and their love of health draw them close to sickness, seeking to understand it in order to treat it. They aren't like a careless sex addict who has HIV and doesn't care whom he infects, nor are they like a person with OCD who is constantly driven by a fear of germs to wash her hands a hundred times a day and to avoid anyone and anything that could possibly infect her. In contrast, health care workers are willing to get up close and personal with disease, but they do so in order to fight disease and promote health.

Similarly, consider a social worker who works with violent teen offenders. She hates violence - domestic abuse, gang fights, robbery, rape. She despises what it does to people and their dreams. She devotes her life - even risks her life - for the cause of peace and to fight against violence. She isn't drawn to violence the way a gangster is, nor does she run from it like a coward might. She is drawn toward the very thing she hates in order to stop it.

My concern is that by making heaven after this life the destination of our way, we are spiritually forming people who run away from fire, disease, and the violence of our world. That's certainly a major step up from pyromaniacs, disease vectors, or violent delinquents. But it's not as good as what Jesus set out to do, and I think the same could be said for Moses and Muhammad. My concern is that Jesus was more like a firefighter or doctor or social worker who walks boldly into the danger in order to try to stop it.

If a healed and healthy earth is your destination, the way to that goal promotes involvement, engagement, risk, and participation. If earth is a lost cause to you, then, you will abandon this life and world for the afterlife. You will choose the way of withdrawal, isolation, self-protection, and self-distancing. By choosing one destination, you follow the way of incarnation and transformation; by choosing the other destination, you choose evacuation and abdication. Very different destinations, very different ways to them

Want to be a firefighter with me?

Jesus and God - thoughts by N.T. Wright

I'm reading N.T. Wright's The Challenge of Jesus, and last night, I read a quote that reminded me of some past discussions with friends. I'll just copy it in here.

I'm reading a book by N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, and what I read last night made me think of you and our past discussions about the difficulty of defining God and discussing God.
Western orthodoxy, not least within what calls itself "evangelicalism," has had for too long an overly lofty and detached view of God. It has always tended to approach the christological question by assuming this view of God and then by fitting Jesus into it. Hardly surprisingly, the result has been a docetic Jesus. This in turn generated the protest of the eighteenth century ('Jesus can't have been like that, therefore the whole thing is based on a mistake') and of much subsequent historical scholarship, not least because of the social and cultural arrangements that the combination of semi-Deism and docetism generated and sustained. That combinationremains powerful, not least in parts of my own church, and it still needs a powerful challenge. My proposal is not that we know what the word god means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the Temple and dying on a Roman cross - and that we somehow allow our meaning for the word god to be recentered around that point. (123-124)

I'm interested in your thoughts.