An Open Invitation To Those I’ve Hated

Come you bumper sticker theologians and activists

The 33 item man in the 10 items or less lane

All you opinionated e-hard drive by commenters

and my neighborhood speeders.

Come all you cat lovers and treehuggers

and the doomsday preacher of Law keeping

KJV onlyists and skeptical materialists

and Joel Osteen.

Come MSNBC and Fox News hollerers and pundits

Right and left puppet dancers

IRS directors and ambulance chasing lawyers

and Sean Hannity.

Come Kanye come Kardashians

Hollywood bring your elite and your plastic surgeons

Julia Roberts and Lindsey Lohan and Oprah

and Bill Maher.

To dead beat dads and chain smoking pregnant moms

To everyone else in the world I can’t stand

My heartfelt apologies as I stumble to lead the way

To death and falling like dead

before the dying God Man;

Where life begins

Where the worst are forgiven

and the hateful and hurtful put down swords of spite

Like David and Peter and Paul

and me.

Bryan Daniels

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How Crossfit, Crossbows, and Cross Training Shoes Combat Zombies

From Nazi Zombies to “World War Z” to “The Walking Dead”, images of the post apocalyptic snarling undead are ingrained in America’s cultural psyche. There is also a Christian cultural fascination with the Left Behind series and biblical prophecies of impending end times doom.

Sometimes biblical and cultural realities merge in our warped imaginations.

Come on. Don’t act like you haven’t daydreamed your way into a doomsday Zombie attack scenario while your pastor was busy trying to break down the 70 weeks of Daniel 9. What you’d do first if all hell broke loose, who you’d protect, what would be your longterm “bug out” plan. So here are five fool-proof tips to survive the coming crisis without having to lock yourself in a prison food closet with no outlet for…um…”processed” food:

noah is needed for the Zombies

1. Find your “Noah.” You’re probably related to him (or her). He’s probably a distant cousin you haven’t seen in 17 years. He’s been living off the grid lately and he fully expects to escape the coming tribulation with pickled food, an embarrassment of generators, and thousands of rounds of military ammo. If you can stomach his propensity for vast conspiracy theories and railings against the Illuminati it may save your life. Most importantly, he is a man or woman of old school MacGyver-esque sensibilities which include breeding goats, building underground bomb shelters, and blowing up stuff with homemade mortars. Be sure you know the fastest route to Noah’s house without having to travel major highways.

newbalance can run from zombies

2. Running shoes. Well, since they are only the “Walking Dead” they can be jogging shoes. The electrical grid will be down and nonrenewable resources will run out in 2-4 weeks. Like Jesus and the disciples, you’ll have to hoove it from town to town (avoid big cities). Buy some good insoles and quality Nike, Adidas, New Balance or those weird Five Finger shoes.

5 fingers can run from zombies

 

Cross training shoes may be your best fit since you’ll likely be running on a variety of sketchy surfaces. Your feet are your greatest commodity. Beware: Even in the zombie apocalypse, Crocs with socks will get you laughed at.

crossbows kill zombies

3. One word: Crossbow. Forget the guns. Ammo will run out and gunfire will attract herds to your location. A crossbow is an apt discreet zombie slayer and arrows can be reused. More importantly, a crossbow can be used to kill food sources like rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and former house cats (I kid…but seriously) Even if you have tons of freeze-dried food from that failed Nutri system diet plan, it doesn’t matter. Because of looters and herds you will not be staying in one place for long. Get a crossbow. You can wait for heavenly manna, but you know the wise Proverb: God helps those who hunt with crossbows.

crossfit women kill zombies

4. Another similar word that can save you: Crossfit. You know that psychotic workout routine your in-shape friends keep inviting you to do so they can make fun of you? The one where the women dead lift Mack trucks like they’re lifting up a small child. Trust me, you need to get in better shape than you’re in now. You want to be able to run for miles and still have enough in the tank for hand to hand combat with a herd of mouth foaming undead car mechanics. Maniacally flipping monster tires and snatching tree logs over your head may very well be a marketable job skill in the forest tribe you’re forced to join.

The best apocalypse fitness solution may also be to join your local Parkour club. Jumping, flipping, scaling fences and climbing walls can keep you alive. If your family wonders why you’re playing on the park jungle gyms all the time tell them you’re just getting ready for your “Ninja Warrior” debut.

The Bible Kills Zombies

5. The Bible.* According to some lone ranger named “Eli” this holy book will be worth more than water in the desperate desert apocalyptic new world. Oh yeah, and you also need antibacterial wet wipes. The word and wet wipes. Don’t forget.

Bryan Daniels

*Seriously, you will need Living Word and Living Water. Not just for then, but now and always.

Skinny Jeans, Roaring Lambs, and Prophetic Names

The interwebs are a strange unpredictable beast. You may cut your blogging heart open and bleed it all over the keyboard and get a drizzle of a hits. Or you may submit a silly tongue and cheek cultural meandering about the unfortunate prevalence of men in skinny jeans that causes an SEO stirring.

In blogging, you just never know.

I have taken an extended hiatus from consistent blogging since the beginning of the summer. Other than a post per month or so, I’ve been too busy or too bleh to sit down and organize coherent thoughts. But a blog a few years old with a decent amount of content brings anonymous search engine perusers to my neck o’ the woods on a daily basis.

So here’s, by and far, what people have searched for and found on “Chief of the Least” during my summer (and now fall) Sabbatical. In order:

Why I am Thankful for Men Who Wear Skinny Jeans

“When I saw the disgusting fad grip the nether regions of young men 4-5 years ago I assumed it would fizzle away like Val Kilmer’s career (I guess you could never top Doc Holiday anyways). But it hasn’t gone away.

The grip is just as tight today…..”

I Wish You Could Have Sat In That Room That Night

“In addition to being an educator at a public high school, I’m also an assistant football coach. Last weekend, we took 50 players to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes full contact football camp. The camp included spirited scrimmages, upbeat services, and plenty of team building time. On the last night the speaker gave a gospel invitation to come to Christ. Twenty four student athletes from our team alone stood up and came forward as they professed their need for Christ…..”

The Revelation of The Lion Lamb Man

We left the dejected apostle, stricken with grief, with no hope in our last blog post (Revelation 5:1-4).  But an angelic elder comes to comfort John in the very next verse.

The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion(verse 5). A lion is a beast of prey; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.

Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh….”

Naming Your Child: Prophetic?

“Names were rich in meaning in the ancient days. You didn’t just name your children wily nily whatever-sounds-good-at-the time names.

A hodge podge assimilation of syllables or fleeting cultural icons would never do for a child’s name way back when (ie I’ve ran across more than one ”Nike” or ”Mercedes”). A regrettable upward trend in 2010 girl baby names shows that “Kendra” and “Kourtney” with a “K” are becoming more popular among young parents. Why? Because of the notorious reality shows of Kourtney Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson (former playmate).

In the olden days of biblical history, a child’s name held a certain foreshadowing weight to it….”

So there are the top 4 search items of “Chief of The Least” as it has remained relatively passive in the last few months. I assure you, “Chief” Daniels is busy, with family and school and football and other important life items. I appreciate your continued interest and readership to this little blog project despite its dry seasons.

His peace and grace to you and yours,

Bryan Daniels

I Hope Your Dreams Never Come True

Call me Captain anti-motivation and the King of Killed Esteem, but in a genuine sense, I hope my dreams never come true.

I hope your dreams never come true too.

dreams

CS Lewis’s wild eyed sea wanderer of “The Dawn Treader” gives a cautionary story to Caspian and his crew. They must turn back from the track they are on, the “Dark Island” awaits them beyond the fog:

“Fly! Fly! About with your ship and fly! Row, row, row for your lives away from this accursed shore.”

“Compose yourself,” said Reepicheep, “and tell us what the danger is. We are not used to flying.”

The stranger started horribly at the voice of the Mouse, which he had not noticed before. “Nevertheless you will fly from here,” he gasped. “This is the Island where Dreams come true.”

“That’s the island I’ve been looking for this long time,” said one of the sailors. “I reckoned I’d find I was married to Nancy if we landed here.”

“And I’d find Tom alive again,” said another.

“Fools!” said the man, stamping his foot with rage. “That is the sort of talk that brought me here, and I’d better have been drowned or never born. Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams -dreams, do you understand, come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams.”

After a short moment of thought, the crew scrambles to turn back the ship in manicked desperation. Why? Because it only took a few seconds for them to recall, “certain dreams they had had – dreams that make you afraid of going to sleep again – and to realize what it would mean to land on a country where dreams come true.”

Terror by night

As a child, I used to get night terrors. These are like nightmares on acid and steroids. I only vaguely remember them. I’d bolt upright in bed eyes wide open and crippled by an insane fear. I was inconsolable. Cold feverish sweats. Squirming. I seemed there, but wasn’t. Mom would take me outside on the front porch to look at the moon and stars and coax me out of this nocturnal horror.

I never could remember the exact plotline of those dreams, but I did know that something harrowing, unnatural and inevitable was coming after me. Running in quicksand would give way to terrified acceptance. To be “got” by such a brooding dark force was the hell of a six year old.

For my four-year old, Josiah, it’s spider nightmares. Big nasty black ones knee-high. Crawling up his leg in droves. This may be why his favorite superhero is SpiderMan. His greatest fear has become a force for good, a character he can adorn himself with without worry of poisonous bites. SpiderMan helps take the fangs out of spiders.

Spider Man Dreams

But Spiderman still needs to sleep in daddy and momma’s bed from time to time.

Studies show a healthy majority of dreams are nightmares. We romanticize good dreams, where we fly like an eagle over a disco beach party, or reunite with old family and friends over Merlot and T-Bone. But those are few and far between. Most dreams promote a tinge of foreboding and uneasiness. They aren’t just comedies, they are comedy-tragedies, where the other shoe drops on us and jars us awake.

The Deadly Daydream

Nevertheless, to “dream” holds a positive connotation in modern culture. Walt Disney World is a delightful kingdom where “All Your Dreams Come True.” “If you can dream it, you can achieve it,” says the motivational movers and shakers of Self Help fame. From a young age kids are indoctrinated to fearlessly follow their hearts and pursue their dreams into the great future abyss.

Selling the “American Dream” has become a multi billion dollar industry. Coats and boats, vacation homes and 2.3 kids, all have become synonymous with self actualization. Our dreams are filled with stuff and affirmation from people we don’t even like. We live vicariously through the beer commercial, like hot tubbing on a mountaintop or playing volleyball on a beachhead will cure our soul ills. This utopic nationalistic fantasy is just that:  fantasy.

When used in Hallmark Card terms these are daydreams, not dreams in the nocturnal sense. Even these fantasy daydreams have some unspoken darker themes. We dream up a land where we’re the King, where all manner of pleasures bow before our whims, where our closest family and friends would be marginalized and forgotten. If we’re honest, there are certain aspects to our daydreams we would never dream of sharing with our most intimate confidants.

If such recesses of our imagination came to flesh it would shipwreck our life.

We should hope and pray all of our dreams never come true.

That’s why Christ appeals to a Kingdom outside of us as a King over us. All while gently placing His Kingdom reign within us through the Holy Spirit (Luke 17:21). No man can know his own heart fully (Jeremiah 17:9). That sickly hollow muscle must be remade. A world where individual fallen man’s dreams all came true would be a literal hell indeed.

So we chase not after our dreams.

But after a King and a Kingdom.

Where all HIS dreams will come true for us. And nothing but His ultimate glory and our ultimate good will be the standard for our future. Our fantasies. Our sleep.

Bryan Daniels

To Be Ugly and Strong Like John Wayne

John Wayne

He didn’t walk, he ambled.

He had “swag” before the stupid word was invented.

For over thirty years in Hollywood film, John Wayne was the American icon of rugged masculinity and the consummate good guy. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered Wayne’s assassination as a result of his frequently-espoused anti-communist politics.

Awesome.

Before dying of stomach cancer Wayne requested his tombstone read “Feo, Fuerte y Formal”, a Spanish epitaph for “ugly, strong, and dignified.”

Awesome.

My dad, a roughneck country boy in his own right, has an obvious man crush on John Wayne. Growing up, whenever a John Wayne movie was found on the old movie channels, pops was transfixed instantly like a moth to a flame. He’d seen every one of the Duke’s movies 23 times…at least.

The modern movie stud is a little more metro sexual and sanitized. You wouldn’t want them to have your back in a bar fight anymore than you’d want SpongeBob Squarepants to cater your dinner party. Bradley Cooper is a good actor, but don’t tell me you see him taking on Iran’s Ahmadinejad in a heated war of words.

To be sure, there were always the more domesticated winky eyed Cary Grant’s and James Stewart’s on the scene. But they were nicely balanced by the rough and tumble Rooster Cogburn. That leather face and razor wit. If you were the bad guy, he felt just as comfortable cracking a joke at you as shooting you.

Your choice.

So here’s to a simpler time. Where the line between good and evil was drawn with thick black paint. Simpler is not synonymous with dumber. We like our heroes to be a little more twisted and torn nowadays.  Like the modern Christopher Nolan protagonists, Batman and SpiderMan wrestle with their darker tendencies while fighting for good.

But maybe we need a straight shooting straight talking Cowboy who will open up a can on society’s evil degenerates and restore order and justice for the victims.

I believe one day we’ll get that. 

But here’s to the late John Wayne and the era of manliness that died with him. Where real men protected women with strong hands, fought injustice with a fierce chivalry, and rode into the sunset of uncertainty with boldness.

When I grow up, I want to be “ugly”, “strong”, and “dignified” like that.

Bryan Daniels

Murder of Men on Music Row (George Jones)

George Jones
Swag

I didn’t leave country music. Country music left me.

When news of the passing of the Possum, George Jones, hit me yesterday I instantly thought about the song largely dedicated to him, “Murder on Music Row.” Alan Jackson and George Strait sum up the angst most traditional country musicians have felt the past 20 years or so:

Legends like Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and Johnny Cash epitomized country music. They didn’t just sing about a life of hard drinkin’ and harder women, they barely lived through it. Country music used to have grit and authenticity. Now it has pop rock metrosexuals in bedazzled jeans and whitened teeth.

Who would you choose to have your back in a theoretical bar fight: Merle Haggard or Kenny Chesney? 1. Kenny Chesney is a midget with a fake tan. 2. A dude with a name like “Merle Haggard” has to be able to throw down.

I partly blame Garth Brooks. When the biggest country music star in the ’90s went and tried to create a cheesy pop rock alter ego, “Chris Gaines”, it knocked the wind out of traditional country’s soul. Hank Williams caused a minor tornado turning over in his grave after that spectacle. The timeless image of a worn lonesome cowboy with nothing but a guitar and broken heart was replaced by pyrotechnics, a rock band, and stupid antics that would make “Kiss” blush.

So terrible on so many levels...
So terrible on so many levels…

Don’t even get me started on country artists who try to rap. That genre mixing mess is a new kind of awful in my book. If you’re not good enough to primarily sing country or primarily rap, then. do. neither. please.

I’m not positing to be an expert. Just a concerned observer. My teenage angst years were spent with “Pearl Jam” and “Deftones”, but I always found a way to come back to my long-lost relative, Charlie Daniels, and the man in black, Johnny Cash. They seemed like kindred spirits on the dusty journey of life.

And that’s one thing I appreciate about traditional country. It’s transparent about human struggles and the dirt of life. It rarely celebrates infidelity or drunkenness, but it serves as a cautionary tale for those vices. There’s a visceral sorrow that accompanies those pictures of human depravity. A deep longing in the Possum’s voice that hopes to be better than his worst moments.

I don’t see reality in the carefully crafted public images of artists like Jason Aldean and Keith Urban. They talk about dirt roads and young loved lost but I can’t completely believe they’ve lived it. Same goes for disingenuous rap artists like Kanye West who talk about how hard they are (Taylor Swift could beat you in a slap fight bro). In my opinion, modern country folk artists like The Avett Brothers or Lone Bellow are picking up the mantle men like Jones and Cash have left behind. The rough mantle Rascal Flatts could never pick up due to their soft manicured hands.

So here’s to the restoration of men in modern music. And here’s a salute to no-show George Jones, I hope his legacy finds a good John Deere lawn mower and sunset to ride off into.

Bryan Daniels

Four Reasons You Should Wear Velcro Shoes

Velcro Shoes
Yes. High heeled Velcros. You’re welcome ladies.

They’re stylish

I mean this is obvious. Nothing says fashion statement more than two straps across the top of your foot. Nothing screams class more than that obnoxious ripping noise those straps make when you take them off. They come in three primary colors: Black, gray and hospital white. These colors can match any wardrobe combination. Jeans, slacks, capris, jorts you name it. You want to be on the cutting edge? Then strap these on and watch the envious glares coming your way.

They’re cost efficient

I get my beautiful pair from Wal-Mart. Where else can I get a brand new pair of shoes for $13.83 including tax? I don’t have to deal with those greasy shoe salesman one finds at FootLocker or Journeys, cause Wal-Mart employees avoid you like the black plague anyways. I can buy my shoes, diapers, a gallon of milk, and a bag of funions and I still have enough money left over to take my wife out to Shoney’s for the weekend.

They’re time saving

Cause ain’t nobody got time for shoestrings anymore. Seriously, do you still use a carrier pigeon or do you text message? Get with the times, velcro is the latest time saving trend to open up your schedule for more Call of Duty and Facebook creeping. That’s exactly why NASA or someone originally made this groundbreaking fabric.

They will make you feel young and wise

Who are the only people you see wearing velcro shoes in our society? That’s right: Three year olds and eighty-three year olds. But you have the benefit of wearing them while no longer (or not yet) wearing a diaper. Velcro shoes will give you that youthful vigorous look AND that worn and wise look. The best of both worlds. All rolled in one shoe. You can instantly fit in during a skating rink party or a game of Bingo. This shoe is fluid.

Bryan Daniels

What are some additional benefits of Velcro Shoes we should consider?