Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I keep rolling with the punches as the Coronavirus saga continues and we’re forced to adjusting our boundaries and personal thresholds in the face of what I call “the interim normal“. Among several changes I neglected to mention in Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 was that our church moved to online services effective March 15th. Once boasting a membership over 2000 at its peak, and located squarely within the very first Indiana town to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis once those started happening here, our church knew they couldn’t procrastinate taking action. Thankfully the IT infrastructure needed for such an undertaking was already in place. They’ve been recording and sharing sermons online for years — an audio-only stream back in primitive times, now with value-added video today.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
By the time we finished our meager lunch at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, the storm had abated for a spell. Not far down the road is Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, whose features include a Visitors Center and free parking a block away. It was a nice start to the experience.
Our view of church this morning at 8 a.m., remembering and worshiping before the crowds who’ll be flocking in for the 9:15 and 11 a.m. services. We sat in the back with Anne’s grandmother and enjoyed the message, in which our lead pastor skillfully worked in a brief but topical detour to refute Lex Luthor’s flawed theology in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Apt timing.
Happy Easter to you ‘n’ yours from Midlife Crisis Crossover, and may you have a truly blessed day.
Pictured above: the main auditorium stage at our church home throughout the month of March.
It hasn’t been an easy, gracious month ’round these parts. Everywhere we turned, believers and non-believers alike were up in arms. Christians of all denominations, at all levels of faith, at various save points of their walkthroughs with Christ, have had plenty of questions, countless disagreements with others, even debates with each other. Anyone among us who never felt challenged or moved to sincere contemplation all month long wasn’t paying attention.
Easter Sunday is one of those too-rare moments when we collectively set aside our divisions, recognize why we do what we do, remember what our successes mean, realize what our failures don’t mean, and reaffirm why we ought to keep trying to do better.
We’re looking forward to service tomorrow morning. We welcome it. Right now, we need it.
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“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” — 2 Thessalonians 2: 15-17 (NIV).
The “faith” aspect of the Midlife Crisis Crossover tagline may seem downplayed here more often than not, especially while diving into the deeper ends of geekery and pop culture, but rest assured it’s never far from my mind. What matters most, what keeps us going, what makes everything possible, what sees us through all that we do together — the hints appear around us everywhere we go.
Even on our 2013 road trip, examples weren’t hard to find. Whether it was a giant cross that would be the last thing we photographed in Ohio on our way home at the end of Day 9…
See this? Do you SEE THIS?
Few things strike dismay and disgust more viciously in the heart of a bibliophile than the sight of a water-damaged book. The original paper texture is lost. Your book will never close satisfyingly again. The pages make that unnerving tissue-paper sound when you turn them. In extreme cases the ink will run and turn sentences illegible and information irretrievable. If it’s a “classic” book in any sense, any hope you might’ve had of reselling it at collectors’ prices in the future are dashed.
The worst part of this incident is, this wasn’t even my coffee. In an auditorium with stadium seating and no carpeting under the seats, someone else’s morning java escaped them, flowed down to our row, and soaked the back of the laminated folder I’d left on the floor. The folder itself was fine but secretly had coffee adhering to it when I picked it up and set it on my open Bible so I could remove something from it. When I tried to move the folder, then I spotted the coffee, the runoff on the floor, and the damage done.
If you’re like me, and I know I am, this sort of accident spurs a vindictive little voice in the back of your head that wants everyone to know something inconvenient has happened and someone better do some mollifying or else it won’t shut up. But who was I supposed to complain to?
The Academy Awards aren’t complete without at least one token high-caliber British nominee on the Best Picture shortlist. Leave it to director Stephen Frears (whose past nominees include The Queen and Dangerous Liaisons) to fit the bill this year with a transatlantic odd-couple quest for reconnection or closure, for truth or justice, and for fury or forgiveness.
As much as I post about the entertainment options around me, I can’t immerse myself in them 24/7. Sometimes they disappoint or frustrate me. Sometimes they demand more of my time and attention than I care to give. Sometimes the idols among them remind me how their previous versions guided me through childhood. While I grew up and improved in a way or two, too many of those idols lost their luster, descended into mediocrity, or had their Reset buttons punched to turn them into different creatures with the same names. Ultimately they’re undependable as worldview building materials.
Hence my weekly one-man retreat. Every Sunday morning after church I isolate myself from my loved ones and collections, hole up in a local chain eatery that has plenty of loitering space (it’s not too hard to identify if you know the place), clear my mind, and spend an hour-plus with caffeine, snack, Bible, spiral-bound notebook, and a copy of the late Oswald Chambers’ devotional collection My Utmost for His Highest.
For those newer readers who’ve been wondering to themselves for months: I assure you the “faith” mentioned in the site subtitle isn’t a typo.
First things first, above all else: Happy, glorious, wondrous Easter to one and all!
My laundry list of thank-yous and expressions of gratitude relevant to this celebratory occasion would go on for pages and surprise no one who knows me. Even something as simple as an ordinary day in my life is cause for joy, though I’m just as likely to take too much of each one for granted.
Behold the city of Indianapolis, where my ordinary average day begins. It’s above-average in size, but still treated as one of the runts in the major-American-city clique, though the positive reviews of our Super Bowl LXVI hosting experience went a long way toward convincing other cities to stop calling us names. Many of the fruits produced in my life wouldn’t have been possible if Indy were the nonstop battleground that local news would sometimes have us think it is.
Confession time: when I launched MCC eleven months ago, I didn’t expect that aspect of my life to receive such short shrift here compared to the other parts of my life. Truth is, writing about my faith is challenging because the majority of examples set before me from other writers, family, and friends (in writing or in simple conversation) are either memorized Bible verses, Christian song lyrics, or common quotes that sound so much like real verses that everyone assumes they are and keeps passing them around. For the purpose of self-expression, I have a hard time settling for that.
Years before my life took a conscious turn toward a new spiritual direction, I was once an English major who had one critical writing lesson drummed repeatedly into my head : “Put it in your own words.” While the Bible contains a wealth of advice more useful to me than Bartlett’s Quotations or Twitter, I’m not sure what I’m accomplishing — either for the Kingdom or for myself — if all my writing and speaking consists of recycling the exact phrases and paragraphs of everyone who came before me. Becoming a living, walking re-blogger holds no appeal to me. I’m hardly the most original guy in the world, but I’d at least like to try to form my own sentences into useful structures. Problem is, all the best wisdom and aphorisms are taken, leaving me to cobble together what I can from my own odd experiences and pale talents in hopes that it doesn’t reek of copy/paste plagiarism. More often than not, my frustrated approach is if I can’t say something different, I don’t say anything at all.
I don’t recommend that mindset to anyone else. I’ll concede that’s me being stubborn. Arguably, I’ve set the bar too high for myself. We’ll see how my thoughts on the subject progress as I age and hopefully keep growing. Until then, here I am, doing the best I can with what I have. That usually means I end up focusing on my other specializations here, those that predate my faith, originated in my childhood, and are sometimes at odds with it. Thus is the conflict that fuels some of the fight scenes in the Midlife Crisis Crossover.
Of all the possible ways to spend the week leading up to the three-day commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ Our Savior, I’m pretty sure that one of the most counterproductive, least evangelistic options at our disposal is engaging in messy, protracted fight scenes (whether amongst ourselves or with others) for the purpose of defending the position that believers who follow the Lord’s tenets to the letter should be rewarded with government-approved perks for this accomplishment, and that those who don’t, shouldn’t.
I could be wrong. Maybe there are worse ways to count down to Easter. I’d prefer to eschew those, too.
Saturday the 10th was my first day spent with a wheelchair. I tried to imagine the day beforehand, to anticipate the drawbacks and plan for every single troubleshooting scenario. I’m surprised I nailed most of them, but it was still a learning experience full of ups and downs. The day could have been much more painful and full of recriminations, had I not been blessed with a very patient, very grateful passenger.
One of the highlights each year for my wife’s grandmother is when the three of us spend a November Saturday together at the Indianapolis Christmas Gift and Hobby Show, a cavalcade of Christmas arts, Christmas crafts, Christmas edibles, and non-Christmas small businesses and hucksters held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in one of their cavernous pavilions. It usually takes us a few hours to traverse the length of the pavilion several times to see all the booths, marvel at the decorations, overspend on a few choice items, and — always number one on Mamaw’s to-do list — have her watch batteries replaced at a specific jeweler’s booth. No one in all Creation is allowed to change her watch batteries except that one jeweler. Everyone else ever born will do it wrong.
Last summer, this once-hyperkinetic eightysomething dynamo took a nasty spill that left her wounded for a good while and reset her normal energy levels at a much lower bar. She’s having much more trouble getting around than she used to, and takes a little longer to perform her chores the way she wants them. Though she weighs under one hundred pounds, she still doesn’t have quite the endurance for supporting that frame around extensive distances. Excessive walking now leaves her winded and ready to call it a day. As her beloved Christmas Gift and Hobby Show drew near, she seriously doubted she could manage the day-long stroll that would entail, and had resigned herself to skipping the show, despite how many she’s attended, despite how much she looks forward to it every year. She feared attempting such a feat now would be the death of her.
Enter: the wheelchair.