The New Christians

I awoke early today, as I often do.  About 4:30am.  I had hoped to sleep longer since this is a tough stretch of travel for me.  I spoke at the National Youth Workers Convention this weekend — after 10 years of giving seminars at this event, I was given the opportunity to speak in front of all 2,000 registrants at the Sunday evening general session.  Doug, Mark, and I attempted a reprise of the Church Basement Roadshow, and, um, well, it didn’t really work.  In fact, it was pretty much a trainwreck.  Without the context of the whole show, the irony was completely lost on the crowd.  Bottom line: we bombed.

The other half of my general session, in which I told my story of faith and theology, went better, I think.  I also gave a couple seminars and got to hang out with friends.  It was, all in all, a great time with little sleep.  I’m home a couple days — long enough to vote and to spend a day buying furniture at IKEA — then I’m off to Greenwich, CT, to speak at Trinity Church, which will include time with two of my favorite persons: Ian Cron and Pete Rollins.

But, of course, today’s election takes precendence.  Yesterday, in a last ditch effort to sway a voter or two, I went on Way of the Master Radio, described by someone on my Facebook page as an even more sarcastic, Christian Rush Limbaugh.  We spoke about abortion, and I was asked to defend how a pro-life Christian (which I am not, at least by the usual definition) can vote for Obama.  I found both Todd, the host, and Scott, my opponent, to be gracious — at least while I was on the air.  The last 15-minute segment got cut, which is too bad, but you can listen to the podcast starting about halfway in here.

Obama LattePhoto Credit: Adam Berry/Bloomberg News

So, now today begins.  I am convinced that the day will end with a landslide win by Obama.  The real question, it seems to me, is whether the Democrats will reach 60 in the Senate.  I won’t be helping on that account, since I’ll be voting for Independence Party candidate, Dean Barkley.

Yesterday and today, I’m at the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club on an annual outing hosted by my uncle. My dad had knee surgery last week, so he’s absent, as is my brother, Andrew. But my brother, Ted, is here, as well as a dozen other guys who are somehow related to me via marriage. We spend a couple days shooting pheasants, eating steaks, smoking cigars, and chewing the fat.

Most importantly, however, Beaumont is here. Beaumont has been my trusty hunting companion for a dozen years, and this will be his last hunt.

Beaumont is a yellow lab, and a big one. He weighs in at about 85 pounds. I bought him, for $150, from a farmer in New Auburn, Minnesota, in 1997. His father, King Kahlua, was a stocky, square-headed yellow with massive front shoulders.


As that old farmer promised, Beaumont (officially, “Beaumont, Prince of Windsor”) took to hunting right away. It’s not uncommon for avid hunters to pay ten times or more what I paid for Beaumont, and then that much again to send them to hunting dog school.  Beaumont’s school was my backyard, and together we learned what it meant to train a hunting dog.

As it turned out, he had the three qualities necessary for a great retriever: an excellent nose, a tireless spirit, and an indefatigable desire to please his master. I’ve not hunted with him a lot — usually just three or four times a season, but it’s been enough to keep him keen on it.

Yesterday, as usual, Beaumont became enormously excited when he saw me pack my Mossberg shotgun and blaze orange vest in the car. And when we got to the field to search for pheasants and chuckers, he hit the ground running.

But within 30 minutes, he was out of gas. After an hour, he could barely make it to the car. I lifted him into the back and he panted like I’d never seen him before as his body tried to cool itself. He has diabetes now, and he drinks, pants, and pees incessantly. Truth be told, Beaumont has just a few more weeks before he journeys to doggy heaven.

But this morning, he’s back on his feet, following guys around the lodge, hoping they’ll drop some food for him (I gave him half my steak last night).

And in a couple hours, we’ll go afield one last time. He’ll flush a few pheasants and, if my aim is true, get to retrieve them and lay them at my feet.

For a lab, that is heaven.

I’m glad to be here at Beliefnet.  I trust this will be a long and fruitful partnership.  If you’re just finding me for the first time here, you can read a bit about me on my site.

My blogging will begin in earnest tomorrow.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

-Cornel West