September 11th

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 If you live long enough there are certain days that establish themselves as markers in the timeline of your journey.

September 11th is one of those days.  The danger of foreign terrorists seemed so removed from our daily lives. That day so many lives were lost, so many families suffering. The landscape of one of our great cities changed forever, and so did our perspective on what we could expect out of the American dream. Neither a plane driven into a field nor destruction at the Pentagon could destroy our country. But it did tear our hearts.

I expect most everyone alive on that day can recount where they were, what they were doing, how they reacted.  Take a moment today not just to remember what happened, but to remind yourself that each day is precious. Each person you meet is beloved by our Creator. Each act of kindness means something important to someone.

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I’m happy to be an American. I feel we are so richly blessed so that we can richly bless and help each other. I pray for our leaders to have their hearts turned toward God. I’m thankful for the global influence we have… and I’m praying for the global influence we could have.

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In that sense I thank God for America and ask His blessings to continue.  I’m grateful to be a Christian, and I’m grateful to live in America.  The pain and loss of September 11th calls us to be mindful of what is really important in our daily lives.

Thanks for stopping by, John.

Security Blanket for a Tech Generation

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I do not recall ever begin connected emotionally to a blanket or teddy bear. If I was, I have blocked the memory of that traumatic moment when I said goodbye to it for the last time.

When you sit down at a table to enjoy a conversation with a mate or friend do you automatically reach into your pocket and place your phone on the table?  You’re not alone. Has your phone become your tech security blanket?

Although the cultural prophets poke fun at the masses who are staring at a screen every hour they are awake, it is a reality that we see everywhere around us.

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I can’t really explain it but I wonder if having a phone at our fingertips has become the new security blanket. Breaking our phone addiction has become a concern for some … but the truth is most of us do not want to be separated from our phone. It is much more than a phone …. it is a living accumulative record of the lives of people we care about … and some people we do not even know.  Perhaps we are living vicariously through the incredibly exciting people we’ve managed to connect to, but would never actually call or meet for conversation. It can be a problem that sucks the life out of us every day – intruding into the very real relationships near us.

So some really smart person decided that “a technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact” was in order. Like an electronic fake cigarette, a non-alcoholic beer or a sugar-free candy bar … a close enough substitute to satiate us partially while we try to break the cycle. The noPhone is not a phone. You can’t take a picture with it. You can’t talk to anyone, check Facebook, Twitter, nor Instagram. You can’t text a buddy or set an alarm or read a book on it.

But you can keep it in your hands while you have a genuine uninterrupted conversation with a real person. Scary, huh.

So we’ve gone from rejoicing in the amazing technology at our fingertips to being unable to escape it. We’ve heard all the warnings that Facebook ‘friends’ are nice, but not good enough to take the place of real friends and face-to-face conversations.9.4.14c

Breaking free from security blankets is tough business for youngsters and, it appears, for oldsters too. We can lay blame to too much caffeine, overloaded schedules, incredibly high work demands, too little rest, too many demands, fractured families, high anxiety, escapism addiction … the list grows. But whether we can identify the real culprit of the addiction that has led to the rise of a noPhone or not, it doesn’t take much observation to see the need.

Have you thought about maybe….

*Leaving your phone safely out of sight in your glove compartment when you go into a restaurant?

*Taking an occasional day off from Social Media? (What are you going to miss, really? Tony Roberts takes a Social Media Sabbath weekly.)?

*Asking God to help you identify the need you have to keep your phone within touching distance?

*Not having a smartphone? Aren’t we connected enough in most places with computers and tablets?

I don’t know the answers. I do know that a lot of good encouragement can be found on social media that is accessed by smartphones. I try to encourage others and bring a smile. But is it my duty to be the minister and entertainer of the social media universe? I don’t even want to start addressing the sour and bitter communications I see.

Maybe a good first step is just awareness … and starting in small ways to break the habit.

By the way, did you know that iPhone 6 is likely to be unveiled tomorrow?

What?

Thanks for stopping by, John.


Amazon Fire Phone now .99

Review: Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth

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John Moe’s Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth is a bit like snooping through someone else’s mail. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a pop icon and with great humor addresses some of the interests of that character. The title gives an obvious clue as to the type of ‘mail’ we are snooping through!

There are almost seventy chapters here full of imagined funny conversations from various people with whom you are familiar. Some of my favorite chapters that had me laughing were …

A Letter from kevin McCallister, age 33, to his mother, 23 years after being left Home Alone.

A retort to Carly Simon regarding her charges of vanity.

A letter to the island on Lost from the head of the ad agency hired to promote tourism on the island.

Papers found in the backpacks of students at the high school in Twilight who are monsters but not vampires or werewolves.

Postings to the Internet Message Board of the Walkers on The Walking Dead (my favorite chapter).

The shark from Jaws keeps a journal as part of his therapy.

Concerning Jon Bon Jovi, wanted dead or alive.

You get the idea. There is an ‘inside joke’ in each of these to which you are privy because you know the character writing the letters. There are lots of laughs and because none of the chapters are connected, it’s a great book to read when you just have a few minutes.

There were a few negatives for me personally that might not influence others. For one, in the nearly seventy chapters there were several chapters about people / characters with which I was unfamiliar. Of course that will be different for each person. I totally get the chapter of Engineer’s notes from the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and was totally lost on Jay Z’s 99 Problems.

Another negative for me was the foul language in some of them. I know it is for shock value, but I do not enjoy it when writers drop “F-bombs” for laughs. One example was to be found several times in A thank-you note from Dorothy Gale to Glinda, the ‘Good’ Witch of the North which would have been funnier to me without the gutter talk.  By no means was this throughout the book, but I thought I would make note of it.

Author JOHN MOE is the host of American Public Media’s nationally syndicated public radio show “Wits.” He is also the author of “Pop Song Correspondences,” a column on McSweeneys.net. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In all I thought the book was really funny in a few places, and simply brought a smile in others. I think this will be one of those books that is a highly personalized experience determined by your awareness of the subjects about which the chapters are written.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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