"Follow your bliss"

Defining your bliss is invigorating. Finding it must be amazing. But following it? Not so blissful. It's uphill; there's a nagging urgency and constant longing. One must always remind one's self to take steps back and take deep breaths. Inhale ... Exhale ...

"Go and do all that is in your heart for the Lord is with you." (II Samuel 7:3b).

What else can I do?


I am really interested in this book. It's called "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture," and the title alone should spark some curiosity.

I saw an interview with the author, Ariel Levy, on "The Colbert Report" and was intrigued. It seems she has been able to intelligently articulate the very thing I rant about at least once a week: Women objectifying themselves with the justification of "owning their sexuality," while unwittingly giving any ounce of power to the men around them. Most interesting to me in Levy's interview were her observations of young women at "Girls Gone Wild" tapings, who effect stripper moves for their male audience. Levy said there's something seriously wrong when women emulate women who are only stimulating pleasure. Authenticity is no longer achieved.

Wow. Awesome statement. I hope that many women -- from "Girls Gone Wild" to "The Girls Next Door" -- will take a look at what this book is getting at.


For a month now I've been waiting for the other shoe drop on NBC's new hit, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

It really is a superior show (no surprise with Aaron Sorkin at the helm), despite the heavy use of "Christian right" material. It's smart, funny and thoughtful with a superb cast.

That cast includes Sarah Paulson as Harriet Hayes, a "devout" Southern Baptist who's actually quite cool for a Christian character on TV. She says a few lame things every now and then, but mostly she's sharp -- discerning between Christians who ought to be off-limits on the fictional comedy show and those who are all but asking for it.

Ever since the show started, I was wondering how they were going to handle the whole sex thing with her. It's inevitable because one of the central plots is her long-term relationship with one of the show's writers, who is not a Christian. On Monday night, they cleared the air.

As her character was being interviewed behind the scenes, a reputable journalist asks about the conflict between her faith and the content of the sketch show. What about a skit with pre-marital sex? "I have no problem with pre-marital sex," Harriet replies. "It might be the only sex I ever have."

Ah, there it is. Not only is it a reach that a Southern Baptist woman who prays daily wouldn't have a problem with fornication, but it's kind of sad. This is how they're going to make her character palatable -- she's got to be compromising. Should they try to pass off a Christian character as flawless? No. That's why it would have been better for them to at least make her conflicted about it (i.e. she has sex, but doesn't think it's great for her). Instead they make her milquetoast.

The upside is there's a prime-time Christian character on TV who doesn't pledge allegiance to Pat Robertson and is actually intelligent. Baby steps, I guess.

For Helen

We all have enemies in this life, Lord willing.

If you are a man or woman of principle, you will encounter opposition if you stick to your guns. In the 11 days since Helen Chenoweth-Hage's passing, many words of remembrance have been uttered -- many drenched with love and some dripping with hate. The latter came from people who never met the lady. Anyone who had the pleasure would choose their words carefully and graciously. Of course it's sad that so many did not encounter her, and thus twist their political disagreements into personal ambushes. But for the last 11 days, and for the rest of my life, their words fall away like water off a duck's back -- they're empty and obsolete. Helen's best qualities are the ones that will be remembered. Her faith, grace, genuineness, class and strength are indelible.

I didn't write the following; I heard it on a television show. But I love it. For Helen...

I stand on a mountaintop
As the great bird approaches,
She is small in my sight
but grows larger on approach
Until I am blessed with the full sight
with her graceful wing...
all too quickly she grows small again
on the horizon,
and disappears from view,
and I cry out "there, she's gone"
but there are other mountaintops beyond me,
and at the precise moment when I note the
great bird's departure from my view,
I know there are new eyes,
taking up the sight of her,
and fresh voices calling out "here she comes"

Running to stand still

I've decided there are few things more satisfying in the 21st century than forced stalling.

A couple weeks back, after driving girlfriday to the airport, she called me from a pay phone to say she'd forgotten to pack her cell phone so we shouldn't try to reach her on it. A few hours later she discovered it was a false alarm and the phone was just hidden in her makeup bag. She confessed to me that those few hours were actually quite liberating, and finding her phone was even a little bit of a letdown.

Without her phone, girlfriday couldn't answer or make calls -- it was out of her hands and out of her control. After the first five minutes or so of panic wash over, situations like this are kind of comforting.

It's the same effect when I'm driving down a busy street and the car in front of me is going the same speed as the car beside me. Both are too slow, but I can't do anything about it. Even though I'm a typically efficient driver, it feels a little good to know that getting to my destination on my own time ain't gonna happen.

There's one more way that letting go is a beautiful thing.

Mrs. C...

That's what Helen Chenoweth-Hage told a room full of 5th-grade Sunday schoolers they could call her for short (long before the hyphen Hage). So we did.

Idaho's iconic former congressman died last night in a car crash. The words "politics," "salmon" and "ultra-conservative" will pop into many people's heads when her name is mentioned today. For me, the words will be: strength, nurturing, kindness, role model, Sunday school teacher, church goer, camp counselor, warmth, and family friend.

Since she was elected to Congress in the mid-'90s, it's been odd (to say the least) to hear Helen talked about by acquaintances of mine who were strangers to her -- people who knew the politician, but not the woman. For me and my family, the latter always held much more meaning than the former. She was a picture of determination and grace, possessing that rare symbiosis of toughness and tenderness. And she is the kindest, most genuine soul you could ever meet.

Political critics and opponents of Helen had no choice but to admire her tenacity and follow-through. And even journalists like Dan Popkey couldn't crush her spirit or muffle the support of her fans when her personal mistakes were put on public display. She handled even the most difficult situations the only way she knew how: with class.

"Class" indeed. And she was in one all her own. Even if Helen had never been a public figure, I would have felt extremely privileged to share part of my life with her ... to have her come into the bunk room with her "I'm a Morning Person" nightshirt and wake up to her tickling my toes, saying, "Time to get up, joyful!" ... to get the warmest hug imaginable after my high school graduation ... and to know this beautiful, intelligent tower of strength had a knowing smile just for me.

Today she is with her Maker once again, and closer than ever to her late husband. Here on earth remain a family she helped make strong and a sea of loving friends. Even after every political and public act is stripped away, you see the legacy Helen left -- independent woman, devoted mother, faithful Christian, generous friend, caring citizen, Mrs. C.