The Nerd Gospel

"Nerd Clear" by Jose Jara Ramirez via Wylio
"Nerd Clear" by Jose Jara Ramirez via Wylio

I have a number of identifiers on my various venues I write for and on my email signature: heretic, antagonist, father, son, instigator, pop culture junkie, theologian, social media guru, and so on. But one seems to resonate with folks more than any other: GOD NERD.

For some it’s just a funny juxtaposition of words. For others, there is something deeply relate-able in the moniker. Incidentally, the simple fact that I use words like “moniker” make clear the fact that I and a card-carrying, credentialed nerd.

Do Superheroes Get the Flu?

MY DREAM OF being the vanguard of a new super race of elderly came to an end recently when I spent a week in bed with bronchitis.

I had been preparing for my new role by carefully watching instructive documentaries on two of our greatest citizens, Captain America, a hero whose muscles are swollen with patriotism, and the Green Lantern, a man empowered by a secret alien force that controls the universe, like the Koch brothers, only with better special effects. These two superheroes are using their powers to fight evil, such as job-killing regulations that are stifling American business innovation.

Speaking of which, I’ve been thinking of inventing a disposable shirt sleeve for people who, like me, have recently spent the last month coughing into their elbows. This is the doctor-recommended technique for controlling your germs (as opposed to my preferred method of coughing out the window of a speeding car, although you really have to get the angle right). But after a while, your target sleeve starts developing its own ecosystem, supporting life forms more typical of, say, a rainforest. I didn’t mind the moss, and the ferns were kind of pretty, but when an equatorial lemur started crawling up my shoulder I thought it might be time to change sweaters. But why not slip on a new disposable arm sleeve instead, I asked myself entrepreneurially. Unfortunately, since I’m not a rich job creator, I couldn’t move forward with the idea. Plus, my friends told me it was gross.

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Hit the Hallelujah Button: With Clark W. Griswold et Famille

Clark and Ellen Griswold of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."
Clark and Ellen Griswold of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

On this Christmas Eve, as you gather with "kith and kin" on the threshold of the Christ Child's birth, we give you a moment of familial rejoicing from the Clark W. Griswold family of Chicago's North Shore and the great Christmas light miracle of 1989.

JOY TO THE WORLD! (Drum roll, please...)

Links (and Videos) of Awesomeness: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

Senior citizen flash mob performs Glee's "Last Christmas" at Target, Sir David Attenborough narrates "What a Wonderful World" to clips of nature, Christmas decorations seen as tributes to the Pagan Sun-God, Banksy's latest satrical sculpture on the church, Jesus visits the Denver Broncos, a bread nativity scene, year in review lists, and Teddy the talking porcupine wishes you all a very "Merry Christmas."

Christmas Cheer

Holiday gift giving isn’t all about relishing in the latest technological gadgets, but when that tablet is an innovative and interactive Bible, it would be a sin not to indulge! See the iBle, and all its fascinating and spiritually stimulating content. Two thousand years of history never seemed so exciting! Video from DadsGarage.


New and Noteworthy

Joking for Jesus
Why so glum? Jesuit James Martin’s Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life is a gracious invitation to loosen up a little and balance tears and righteous anger with delight in the God-given gift of laughter. HarperOne

The Courage to Love
The film Little Town of Bethlehem follows three men of three different faiths who pursue nonviolence in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Screening kits and DVD for home viewing are available for purchase.

Body Meets Soul
In See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity, Amy Frykholm tells nine people’s stories of sexual formation and faith, from typical teenage experimentation to being trafficked. It reveals some of Christian culture’s failures around human sexuality, while offering tentative hope for a more holy and whole way forward. Beacon Press

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Chicken Run

After four trips to Honduras—enough time to meet the rigorous standards of scientific data gathering—I can finally conclude that roosters do not crow to greet the dawn, except by coincidence. It turns out they also crow the minute before dawn, and the minute after, and subsequently every minute for the rest of the day.

I observed this phenomenon mainly during the early morning hours, when most humans would expect a few hours of invigorating sleep. My bedroom window was above the local meeting place for area roosters who, unlike their American kindred, do not start their day on a rooftop, silhouetted by the rising sun, before providing the stern but compassionate guidance their broods depend on. Nope. They mainly just hang out and crow. Repeatedly.

Sadly, I saw many young chickens wandering around who clearly could have benefited from adult leadership. But their long-suffering mothers were too harried to provide it, so the young chicks lacked the role models so critical to today’s youth. So, after much study, I must reluctantly conclude that Honduran roosters have no observable domestic skills or duties.

This is not one of those “theories” like gravity or evolution, which scientists on the Kansas school board have responsibly debunked. No, this is objective fact. I know this because, like Jane Goodall and her mountain gorillas, I “lived among them” for a whole week. They emitted a constant annoying background noise—similar to the music of Enya—that provided the soundtrack to each evening’s sleeplessness.

They could have done something more productive, such as pecking sense into the local tarantula population, although I realize this is a long shot, since tarantulas have no natural enemies except military-grade munitions.

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Nine Tips to Help You Survive Advent

Since Advent is often a time of welcoming relatives to the home, make an effort to include them in the family Christmas traditions they missed out on last year, such as loading the dishwasher, making their own beds, and picking up after themselves.

Decorating the outside of your house is a great way to show the neighbors how important Advent is to your family. And remember, it’s not a competition to see whose house is the best on your block, although if your lights are not bright enough to interfere with the navigation of passing jetliners then, frankly, you’re just not feeling the true Christmas spirit.