In my latest World on the Web post, I argue that conservative Christians have a dilemma regarding the Turkish slaughter of Armenians: side with President Bush as they all too often do or side with the truth. I love dilemmas like that.
I recently had a moment of weakness and took the three older boys to Dairy Queen. It had the ambience I've come to associate with a DQ: bad lighting, dirty floors, inattentive teens behind the counter. But the boys like it, for some inexplicable reason. As we sat eating our treats, I noticed a poster for a "MooLatte."
I'm no marketing expert, but my casual experience is that words like that are usually invented because they latch on to an existing word in order to seem clever or familiar:
Frappuccino: a mix between a frappe and a cappuccino; Sell-a-thon: a sale that will go on like a marathon; Croissanwich: a sandwich made with what passes for a croissant in America.
So what word does "MooLatte," which is a light-brown colored drink, evoke?
The vocabulary challenged can click here for a hint.
After a Google search I found I wasn't the first person to ask. What's interesting is that other folks commented on this in 2004. Apparently DQ is happy with the moniker. I'm not sure if that's evidence of chutzpah, indifference, or ignorance. What I am certain of is that Braum's has far better ice cream. Now if I can just get my tastebud-impaired ragamuffins to agree...
This is the story the Wife told me about her recent flight: a woman next to her notices that a man across the aisle is reading the latest Harry Potter book. They strike up a conversation. It turns out that both are reading it with their teenage sons. "Anything to get a boy to read," says the woman. The man nods in commiseration.
Later that evening, once she is safely home with us, and our dance celebrating her return is completed, Caleb tells her about a poetry book I bought for him at the used book store. He spontaneously quotes the first lines of Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade," which is in the book. He is especially excited because this is the poem that his friend Parker, an eleven year-old boy who is homeschooled by good friends of ours, recently recited from memory.
"Now that I think about it," the Wife tells me later, "I know several boys around Caleb's age, all of whom love to read, and who read better things than Harry Potter." Of course, she notes, they're all homeschooled, and therefore off the public radar.
And this is the problem, isn't it? Our standards have plummeted, and we no longer have a measure by which to gauge their fall. What a sad thing, that we have come to think that it is inherent in boys not to read, and that they must be coaxed into it by means of brain candy.
So, what are your children reading? And if you aren't happy about your answer, what are you going to do about it?
Update: After gentle correction from some of my brighter readers, I changed the attribution of "Charge of the Light Brigade" from Kipling to Tennyson. It would probably be mean-spirited of me to point out that I was educated in public schools...
After my recent whining about church I felt like I left more unexplained than explained, and that on the whole I shouldn't have written it without the explanations things like: there is a profound difference between worship and sermonizing, and most modern churches conflate the two; and, almost all of our best friends go to our church, and we love them; and I don't get close to people anyway, which is my own doing, and not my church's fault. But to spell all that out seems like far too much work, and then what incentive would any of you have to buy the book one day?
I confess I was warmed to see my own thoughts echoed in something Frederick Buechner said when asked why he rarely attends church:
One reason I don't is very often when I go I am bored out of my wits. They're not telling me anything I haven't heard before. They are not moving my heart. Plus it gives birth in me to the worst of me. I keep thinking how much better I could do it. And what a terrible thing to go to church and come away thinking, "God, I wish I had gotten up there. I could have really told it the way it is."
How wonderful that he admits such a thing. It makes me think I may get into heaven after all.