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Monday, November 17, 2014

Teen Ministry & Doctor Who Snorkeling

The Doctor snorkels at Ke'e Beach

Recently, my mother and a friend visited us. They planned to attend a conference nearby, and as they were unfamiliar with San Diego, I agreed to drive them. It was held at the local Dave & Buster's, a restaurant/games center that makes Chuck E Cheese look like a garden shed next to a mansion. In the banquet room, we enjoyed a nice buffet lunch, and meeting other Christian leaders who wanted to improve the teen ministries at their churches. Then the selected speaker took the podium, and instantly I knew I was in trouble.

Suffering as I do from Tinnitus, I not only hear persistent ringing in my ears, but find loud noises bothersome. The speaker was a man with a powerful voice, who spoke with commitment and passion, so of course he decided to pick up a microphone and place it directly before his mouth. As his words blasted out of the speakers, they felt like bullets launched from machine guns pounding away at my fragile flesh. Or, in a word: Ouch.

When someone sets you at unease, you're liable to find fault with anything they do or so. So if I hadn't found his loud speaking bothersome, perhaps it wouldn't have bothered me that he began by saying, "Now, I apologize in advance to all you anal-rententive folks who want to get onto the program, but first we're going to talk about the character of a youth leader." He went on to describe how, early on in his ministry, he constantly fought with his wife. On their honeymoon, he even had to stop the car on the freeway, get out, and kick a peacock standing in a field. Now, everyone can understand that, when you're young and full of passion, you may also have anger issues. His point was that you needed to be rooted and grounded in your ideals and life before you could ably lead others. It's a good point, one I agree with. 

My annoyance derived from his use of the adjective "anal-rententive" in addressing Christian leaders who had given up several hours, if not the entire day, to hear him speak. I find the term, if not offensive, at least highly disrespectful to others. For me, his usage abrogates the Golden Rule, a maxim embraced by most (if not all) religions, that urges people to treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated. In Christianity, Jesus tells his followers this is the essence of the Law of Moses and the Teachings of the Prophets. The fact that anyone would find this term acceptable in polite society...well, let's just say I found it a poor choice of words. It seems even more unfortunate when you consider that this man regularly places himself regularly before teens. If they find value in what he tells them, they may emulate him, and not just in the ways he intends.

At any rate, his voice was just too loud for my ears. I tried using ear plugs, but there's just no way you can block out a repeating, percussive sound like that, where you're constantly transitioning from silence to a series of explosive consonants. So after awhile I went out and sat down in the dining area of the restaurant. To pass the time, I drew this picture with a pen on the back of the the program brochure. The background music mixed with the sounds from all the machines in the gaming area, and the overall noise was probably louder than in the banquet room. But the sounds were more harmonious, and set me at ease after the constant percussive blasting of the man's voice through the speakers. 

By some lapse of my normal brilliance, I hadn't brought a book along to read, or my sketching materials. So I tried something new: sketching with a pen, just one color, and no hope of erasing if I made a mark I later regretted. With such limited resources, I doubted my ability to achieve a respectable result. But I'm rather pleased with drawing, and my wife said she liked it too. I've already used it as the starting point for another drawing, this one with color pencils on sketching paper. All of which goes to show that good can come from any situation, if you look for an opportunity to turn it in your favor. 

Oh, and one last thing: please don't kick the peacocks.

Dragon Dave

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