Monday, June 27, 2011


Occassionally I find myself in the company of people who are disfigured in some way. Maybe they are a burn victim or an amputee. Maybe they have a disease or part of their face has been removed. I have to confess that I struggle to know how best to act around such a person. Should I avoid staring directly at their injury? You know, just be cool and pretend like it's not there? "Oh, that? Wow, I didn't even notice that you're nose is missing!" Or should I just call out the elephant in the room and ask them right away about the cause of their injuries? "Ooh! What happened to your nose?" Would that be obnoxious?  Unwelcome? Will they think I'm a faker if I don't ask them about it? I want to put them at ease, and I want to be at ease myself, but I get so worked up that I'm never sure if I've done the right thing. I never come away from such an interaction feeling like I handled it just right, and I want really badly to get it right.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Pat Garrett is the man (Photo Above) who courageously brought Billy the Kid's psychopathic reign of terror to an end in July, 1881. In the past several days I have encountered numerous stories about the upcoming auction of the only surviving photo of "Billy the Kid." I have listened as wild west enthusiasts and amateur historians have spoken glowingly, and with an unmistakable gleam in their eye, of Billy the Kid and the lawless times in which he lived. The opening bid is expected to be $400,000, and many believe that the final cost of the photo could easily exceed $1,000,000.00. I personally wouldn't give a used piece of chewing gum for a photo of Billy the Kid. I find our culture's fascination with him disturbing. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about Billy the Kid that I can find to celebrate, and I would never want his likeness on display in my home. It also bothers me that Jesse James, various pirates, gangsters and others have successfully crossed over from infamy to fame, but Pat Garrett goes largely unremembered. There is no demand for Pat Garrett memorabilia, and that's a shame. I think it is telling who a culture celebrates.

What does our lasting fascination with Billy the Kid and his ilk say about American culture?

The woods round about are full of screaming savages. Intent on murder, they are. Heartless as demons, hungry and howling, they circle the defenses just beyond the tree-line in the eerie half-light. Thick as flies on a carcass. They are the hunter's hounds, and these walls and defenses, are like the refuge a bear might find up a tree. The hunter will follow the hounds. Then what?

Friday, June 24, 2011


Dear Kids,

I need to apologize to you for something. It's not exactly my fault, but I will apologize just the same because unfortunately I'm not entirely blameless in the matter either. Your Mom and I have passed on to you a fatal genetic condition which runs in our family. We went ahead with our plans to conceive you even though we knew there was a 100% chance that you would also be born with this fatal condition. I know how you must feel. I felt the same way when I was first told by my parents. This condition is inextricably woven into the very fabric of your DNA, and if you don't seek help for it you will die. It has run in our family for untold generations, and has been the cause of a lot of pain and misery down through the years. As your Father, who loves you very much, I'm saddened to think of you having to struggle with the symptoms of this disease. I too have struggled.

I am speaking of course of the problem of sin.

This disease has numerous symptoms- principally sinful cravings, desires and thoughts (Eph. 2:1-3), manifested in sinful conduct, which lead inevitably to death (Rom. 3:23 and 6:23). Don't be suprised when these symptoms flare up, or when you witness others suffering the ravages of this horrible disease. Such symptoms are common (1 Cor. 10:13) to all of us who have descended from that old rascal, Adam (1 Cor. 15:21-22).

Thankfully, there is a cure. In Romans 10:9 it says, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Jesus voluntarily took our disease onto himself and suffered its consequences so that we could be freed from its dread grip. Jesus is the only cure. I pray that your hearts will always hum to the tune of God's will. Your Mom and I have prayed for your salvation since even before you were born, and it is our greatest desire for you that you would grow up to be sincere followers of Christ as we are. I pray also that the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control would grow to maturity in your lives. Sometimes, I am actually moved to tears in my prayers for you.

Resist what is evil. Embrace what is good. If you stumble, know that you are forgiven. Don't dwell on failure, but get up, dust yourself off, and press on toward the goal, Christ-likeness.

Your Loving Father

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The pitch of the roof is not so steep
Yet steep enough I dare not sleep

For though it would be nice to drowse
Way up here atop the house
With a sinking sun in the west
And my body finally at rest
On shingles warm from midday sun
Though the cool of night has begun

The pitch of the roof is far to steep
For me to even think of sleep.


10. Peter now referred to as "P-Dawg"
9. Abishag the Shunamite described as "Smokin' Hot!"
8. Rising cost of diet pepsi identified as a sign of the apocalypse
7. The voice of Balaam's donkey performed by Eddie Murphy
6. The twelve disciples referred to as "Jesus's Crew"
5. Before knocking down the temple of Dagon, Samson eats a can of spinach.
4. Wife of Potiphar described as "a cougar"
3. Additional 11th commandment warns against the evils of corn syrup and white refined sugar
2. Bonus features include psalm parodies by Weird Al
1. Jar-Jar Binks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Here's my summer solstice joke. Ya ready? You might want to sit down first. When people ask me, "How are you doing?" I say, "It's just been a really long day!" Hahaha! Get it? Because it's the summer solstice? The longest day of the year? That's funny, right?

Oh...I see. It's more nerdy than funny. Well, that's your opinion. You know what? You're a nerd! Forget you! It's funny.


"Wait! What? He said what?!?!"
Exasperated middle-aged female speaking loudly on her cell phone outside of the laundromat (Idyllwild, CA)

"That's pretty much how she always dresses."
Two teenage females in conversation critiquing the uninspired and unimaginitive wardrobe of a third teenage female who was walking a short distance away. (Strawberry Creek Shopping Plaza parking lot- Idyllwild, CA)

"No, that's gross. Hand me an egg. Now!"
Local roustabout and ne'er-do-well in conversation with a second fellow of like reputation as they passed out of sight behind Fairway Market. Nothing good ever seems to happen behind Fairway market. (Idyllwild, CA)

"Is that really made out of legos? Like totally made out of legos? Wow!"
Twenty-something asian female to a caucasian male of like age (they were wearing matching t-shirts that said "UCSD" on them. I assume they were a couple.) commenting on an enormous and elaborate dragon sculpture which was apparently made entirely of legos. (Legoland, CA)

Monday, June 20, 2011

"A savage, part of whose head was shaved, being almost naked and painted, with feathers intermixed with the hair of the other side of his head, came running to me with an incredible swiftness; he seemed to advance with more than mortal speed. As he approached near me his hellish visage was beyond all description: snakes' eyes appear innocent by comparison to his, his features extorted; malice, death, murder, and the wrath of devils and damned spirits are the emblems of his countenance." 

Ethan Allen- 1775

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I am a smasher of fragile things. A dasher of icicles. A stomper of frozen puddles. I yell into the dawn and, perhaps worst of all, I lob rocks into quiet ponds. I confess it. I am a smasher of fragile things. I should not be left alone with old flourescent bulbs, rotten produce, or eggs. Give me a melon and a baseball bat and I will give you a smile.

Is it wrong? Tell me, is it wrong to be a smasher of fragile things?


I recently purchased a 20 oz bottle of Diet Pepsi for $1.59 at a local grocery store. After doing a little math I was horrified to discover that the cost of my pepsi works out to about $10.17 a gallon!!! At current prices, the same 20 oz container filled with gasoline would only cost about $0.62. What's wrong with this picture? Was my Diet Pepsi pumped from beneath the Arctic ice shelf? Does it originate from beneath the burning sands of some war-torn middle-eastern dictatorship? Can gasoline quench my thirst the same way that Diet pepsi does? No, no and I wish!!! We all know that not drinking Diet Pepsi is simply not an option. So I am writing to you, esteemed Mr. President, to do something about this very serious problem. Some weeks I have to choose between pepsi or eating. Sometimes I even have to travel to Mexico to get my pepsi. That's not right. As an American I feel that I should be able to able to purchase my pepsi with dignity and at an affordable price.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind consideration of my concerns,


Chad Irving

Monday, June 13, 2011


Ron and Izzy's bank account was like a dried up lake bed on the African veldt. A wide, shallow depression covered with dry, parched, cracking mud, and at its lowest point a murky pool consisting of $5.15. The bills, which they kept next to the toaster in an old broken napkin holder, waited patiently for the payday rains like a vast herd of thirsty animals. Ron and Izzy's need for a new tube of toothpaste and an oil change also waited. The rains, which fell every other Friday, would fill the depression of their bank account to its very lip and all would enjoy a brief season of plenty. The lush grass of abundance would crowd its thirsty banks again.

Ron stared at Izzy across the kitchen table, "You wanna go out to that taco place Friday night?"

"Yeah, that'd be nice," said Izzy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


If the residents of Idyllwild decided to build temples to their patron gods they would find that three of them are already standing- The Nature Center dedicated to Mother Earth, Idyllwild Arts dedicated to the goddess Muse, and Town Hall dedicated to the god of do-goodism.

Love for creation, creative expression, and service to the community are not bad in and of themselves of course, but if they serve to scratch that inner god-itch which lies in the hearts of all human beings then they become the stuff of idolatry.


Spring is waxing
Winter's waning
No more snow
But now it's raining

Summer's waxing
Spring is waning
Toward the sun
The crops are straining

Fall is waxing
Summer's waning
Nights turn cold
The leaves are changing

Winter's waxing
Fall is waning
Until the spring
Jack Frost is reigning

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Dear Kids,

Let’s start our discussion about sex with God. I think you’ll agree that’s the most logical place to start. After all, sex finds its very genesis in the person of the Creator. He is the inventor and the origin of sex. The world will try to tell you that God is against sex, and that the church’s attitude toward sex is one of prudish disapproval, but that is patently false. Sex was God’s idea in the first place. What God hates is man’s perversion of what he called “good.” Man’s appetite for sex, as well as the feelings of sexual longing and pleasure which are experienced during sex, were created by God. Marriage was created in part to fulfill those longings. God is responsible for making sex what it is- pleasurable, and emotionally satisfying. Man is responsible for perverting that gift and making it sinful.

This reminds me of a story. While I was a police officer, I responded once to a report of a structure fire in a residential area. It was a winter day, and I can remember that as I arrived on scene the homeowner was busily trying to put out the raging inferno by shoveling snow into the house through a window he had broken on the first floor. It wasn’t enough, and despite his best efforts flames began shooting out the upstairs windows and creeping up along the walls. I helped with traffic control while the firemen went to work. Within an hour they had put the fire out, but the house was a total loss. After the fire had been extinguished I went up to one of the exhausted firemen to see if I could get him a gatorade or something from the store. I remember that he put one sooty paw on my shoulder, and with his other hand he pointed to the smoke curling from a neighbor’s chimney. “See that,“ he said still pointing toward the chimney, “that’s a good fire.” Then pointing at the charred remains of the house he said simply, “Bad fire.”

Good fire. Bad fire. Sex is like that too. Sex within marriage is like a fire in a fireplace- it’s productive. It’s awesome! Sex outside of marriage is like a structure fire- it’s destructive. The blaze of such a fire may be exciting for a time and, yes, even intense, but ultimately it ends in destruction. Like a bad fire, sexual sin can also consume a home and brings lives to ruin. Outside of marriage sex is uncontained, and once it rages to ash all that is left is bitter aftermath. Good fire. Bad fire.

As I write, the whole nation is focused on a scandal involving Rep. Anthony Weiner (D- NY) who initially denied, but has since admitted to, sending lewd messages and photos to a number of women on-line. The investigation into Weiner’s conduct has now spread to include allegations that he may have engaged in inappropriate communications with underage girls. Today the leadership of the democratic party made various statements demanding that Weiner resign his position as a congressmen. To make matters worse, Rep. Weiner is newly married to a beautiful woman, and it has been reported that she is pregnant with their first child. Proverbs chapter 5 speaks about the perils of sexual sin, and I can’t help but think of verse 14 from that chapter every time I see Weiner’s face on the television. It reads, “I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.” I feel a profound pity for Anthony Weiner. It now appears that he may have thrown away a promising career in public service. He has also dashed to pieces his reputation, the esteem of his peers, and the trust between him and his spouse. His shame is horrifyingly public. His home and all that he has worked for are on fire, and for what? A cheap, tawdry thrill.

Good fire. Bad fire.

Your Loving Father

Friday, June 10, 2011


Bowden is no longer 7 years old, and, in fact, he will never be 7 again. He is eight years old, and for his brithday he received his own room (complete with a desk with lots of drawers!) and a BB gun. Watch out ground squirrels!!! He's coming for you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One morning several years ago I woke up feeling nauseous. Wearing nothing but my boxers, T-shirt, and a single flip-flop (No time to look for the second one!) I hurried outdoors. It was early in the morning, maybe 5:30 or so, and upon waking it became immediately clear to me that this episode was going to end with a violent splattering of my stomach contents- and that seemed right imminent! (If you ever find me wandering out of doors in my boxer shorts you may safely assume I am in the midst of some crisis. Exigent circumstances make such a flagrant disregard for social conventions permissibale to some extent. At least that's my theory.) Although I knew I would not be able to avoid the fight I could at least choose the location of the battle. I prefer to vomit outdoors. So I went outside and stood for a moment in the muddy dooryard collecting myself. As I stood there my mouth filled with saliva. I groaned. I grimmaced. Then the riot in my stomach threatened to spread to my esophagus and, wanting to spare my loved ones the sight, sound and smell of my wretching, I staggered out into the middle of the dirt road which ran in front of the house. There I surrendered my will to biological necessity and vomited.

It was violent but brief, and when it was all done I felt better. The storm inside had spent itself, and for the moment I felt normal. The cool breeze of the soft spring morning caressed my brow comforting me and the song birds sang their concern. Mud squished between the toes of my bare foot. I tramped back across the dooryard and leaned heavily against a parked car. A tractor motored slowly past. The farmer who had witnessed the whole thing from his vantage point atop the tractor's controls smiled broadly at me, tipped the brim of his baseball cap back with his thumb, and then humorously swerved his tractor wide of the mess I had made. He laughed sympathetically, shook his head, and yelled over the roar of the tractor, "That's a good way to start your day!" I forced a laugh, waved him off, and then went in search of my lost flip-flop. I would spend the better part of that day otudoors.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do I cling to this miserable raft and be satisfied with what meager comfort and security it affords or do I jump ship and swim for a shore that I cannot see? Of course, I know the answer. So why do I ask the question? 'Cause I'm weak...frail...made of dust. That's why. What a figure I must cut gesturing and stammering as I pace back and forth on this raft that I loathe and staring out at a sea that I fear.


It was four years ago today that Sarah got all Jacked up.

Happy birthday, m'boy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Sex. I have developed some thoughts on the subject, which I have been reluctant to publish here until now for a few reasons. First- My own informal research has concluded that roughly three-quarters of BFZ readers are women, and there is something decidedly unseemly (maybe even creepy?) about a man speaking to a largely female audience about this topic. However, as I will explain shortly, my thoughts on the topic of sex are primarily intended for a future audience and not you...whoever you are. (You might find them helpful as well though. I don't know.) Second- Some may view my musings as a form of spiritual exhibitionism. I assure you this is not my intention. I will be avoiding anything too revealing or personal. Third- I don't want anyone to think that I am taking up the topic simply because it is sensational. That's not how I roll.

So why go there at all? In order to answer that question I must first speak to why I maintain a blog in the first place.

I spoke with someone recently about the demise of their now defunct blog. I asked them why they stopped blogging, and they told me very candidly "Because no one ever commented." I love comments, but that has never motivated me. Apart from entertaining the small group of BFZ faithful who check in regularly, this blog has three main purposes, which I have held since the BFZ's beginnings. Until now I have only shared one of the three reasons with you all. That first being that I often think of the BFZ as a "rock pile" for my thoughts and ideas- a place to collect them in written form. The second, is that sometimes I just need to write, and the BFZ is my outlet where that happens.  The third is a tad more personal, but I will share it anyway because it is the very reason why I plan to take up the topic of sex. Quite often I have come to think of the BFZ as an open letter to my children. Sometimes, I worry that I will die in a car crash or something and my children will grow up wondering about me, and what I thought about this or that. For the sake of my children I am going on record. I love you kids.

So this brings me back to sex. I believe that silence is surrender. Our culture is not quiet on the topic of sex. At every opportunity we are confronted with images and ideas which threaten to shape my childrens' view of sexuality. So, as a Father, I don't have the liberty of remaining silent. The enemy has forced my hand. I'm aware though that words are just noise if they are not backed up by a life that agrees with them. The enemy will try to undermine my words through moral failure and hypocrisy. I know this is the strategy. Boys, I'm trying to be the man I want you to be. Lucy, I'm trying to be the man I want you to marry. Let's talk about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm gonna eat the coldness
I'm gonna get dressed
In hotness
'Cause the sun is hot
And the moon is cold
I'm gonna catch the moon
And eat it


Posting will resume soon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It's that time of year again. The annual camp out at Hurkey Creek! Tomorrow is the last day of school for Bowden and Lucy, and for the third year in a row we will be celebrating with a weekend of camping with our friends, the Whites, Campbells and Bayers. It's always tons of fun. If you're interested, you can check out all of the camping action from last year by clicking here and here. I'll see you guys on the other side of the weekend.


 I heard back from the good people at Starbucks today. In response to my letter in praise of their superior java they sent me two free drinks! Huzzah! They're good for any drink and also any size. Sarah estimated that is worth at least $10.00 all together, which brings Project Free Lunch to a whopping total of $22.24 in my return on investment.
The only bummer is that the cards are clearly designed for distribution to dissatisfied customers which I AM NOT! Inside the card it starts by saying, "We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. We want to know how we can make things better..." I love the free drinks, but I'm afraid that presenting such a card to the barista will automatically identify me as some kind of diva with an oversized sense of entitlement. I said I like your coffee, Starbucks. My experience was wonderful! That's why I wrote the letter. Seriously though, this might just keep me from ever redeeming these free drinks. I'm very image conscious, as you can tell from my stylin' duds. I won't risk being misidentified as that type of person.

I'll have Sarah do it for me. One of these babies has your name on it, honey.


As time passes, my memories from my brief tenure as a police officer have grown dim and kind of fuzzy around the edges. Names and streets elude me now. I'm glad that I committed some of these memories to the BFZ rock pile while they were still fresh in my mind. Some remain as yet undocumented outside of affidavits and incident reports. This I intend to remedy at some point. Unfortunately some memories are still horribly vivid though. Like the time I kicked in the door to an old woman's apartment and found her decaying remains in the back bedroom, or the half dozen suicides I responded to. There was also the S.I.D.S. death and "Pie-Dog's" car crash down on the lake road. That's to say nothing of the dozen or so "untimelies" that I was called upon to document for the state. With latex hands and a screaming heart I turned them over, undressed them and ran fingers through their hair, looking for wounds. I noted lividity, counted medications, and diagramed the scene. Every corpse is filed away mentally, catalogued in vivid, macabre detail. I can remember feeling a sort of tingly, light-headed sensation each time as I walked into the presence of a deceased human being.

I want to be macho and say they didn't bother me, but that's not true. They did. They still do. Worse than the corpses though were the walking dead- men and women who were trapped hopelessly in their self-destructive lifestyles. The walking dead haunt me. They were slaves of compulsion, caught up and born along in a current which would lead inexorably to their own destruction. Every time I dealt with them I would come away with just one question- How's it going to end? I wondered if they saw the trajectory of their lives as I did.

I'm not sure I could help them, but sometimes I want to try. I know Christ is the only answer to their problem.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She spoke words into me
Like a spark into tinder,
And watched with joy
As the wild thing spread.
The house at the end of the road, way back in the woods where the track became two thin lines in the trees, was the type of place where you never gave a thought about what you were wearing. It wasn’t until you went into town that you suddenly felt ashamed, like Adam and Eve when they discovered they were naked.


"I like the little monster coming out of your pocket. It's totally unexpected, but it's cute."

Middle-aged white woman with short graying hair, eyeglasses, and wearing a suede jacket to a young, twenty-something asian man with the spikey tips of his hair dyed purple. He was dressed entirely in black, but the designers of his jacket had stitched a bright green monster onto the jacket's exterior in such a way that it appeared to be climbing out of his side pocket. The aforementioned woman seemed high on the camaraderie of our shared experience as jurors, and assumed that her fellow would embrace her comment with enthusiastic follow-up conversation. The young asian was having none of it. He just looked at her with a pained expression, nodded awkwardly at no one in particular, and walked away without saying anything. Several of us witnessed the exchange, which was akin to leaving someone hanging after they made a move to high-five. A high-fiive would have been only slightly more bizarre than what she actually did. He was a grumpy looking man whose very demeanor screamed "leave me alone," but the woman was apparently oblivious to all that. She charged into his personal space like a bull made of loud small-talk. She burned away the pleasant mist of his inner-monologue like a hot sun, and I couldn't exactly blame him for retreating the way he did. (Although it was rude. Definitely rude.)  Part of me felt that the woman had brought such a face-losing scenario onto herself by not reading things more clearly, and by not being respectful of his stand-offiishness, but in the end I sought to put her at ease and soften her rejection. I don't why I cared, in truth my sympathies were with the asian man, but even though it had nothing to do with me I sought to bring closure to the awkward scene.  I did so by telling an untruth (not proud of it). I said, "I thought it was neat too." (No I didn't.) That succeeded in bringing closure to the awkward scene, but it led me into a kind of interpersonal quagmire which proved difficult to extricate myself from. She now focused her attention on me and as she turned in appreciative response to my comment it felt kind of like watching a gattling gun pivot in my direction. I wouldn't be able to shake free from her relentless small-talk offensive for another fifteen minutes. I was amazed at her ability to continue such a one-sided conversation for so long, without any input from me. The weather, the inconveninece of jury duty, pets, gas prices, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... she kept going and going, barely stopping to breathe, and no segue between topics. I'm sorry to say it, but I only achieved my liberty with a second lie, "Excuse me," I said, "I have to go use the restroom." (No I didn't) Then, in parting, a third lie, "It was nice talking to you." (No it wasn't.) I regret lying. I'm still not sure why I did. It was sinful, and I won't try and justify it. Maybe the asian was more virtuous than me. I stayed in the bathroom far longer than was necessary giving the woman time to find a second victim. I had no doubt she began the hunt as soon as I left. The cool, quiet of the men's room was like a porcelain refugem. When I finally exited and made my way to a magazine rack on the other side of the room from where the woman sat I observed that she had struck up conversation with a young hispanic lady who appeared glad for the conversation. Feeling bad about lying, I almost forced myself, out of a penitential spirit, to go back over and resume our conversation, but in the end I decided that this would only put me in the way of temptation again. So I sat down near the asian man, and together we waited in gloomy silence.