Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wal-Mart Experience (published 3-7-2009; updated 9-3-2022)

9/3/2022 update:
     My analytics indicated that this article, of 13 years ago, had three views in the last seven days. I'd almost forgotten about this article. I published it, later on the same day, as my far more profound article: WHY I LEFT (Published 3/7/2009).
     I decided to re-read what I'd written and to update the formatting and font size. I did not change one word that I'd written 13 years ago.
     The article was my “customer survey,” after a frustrating Wal-Mart “shopping experience.” I don't shop at Wal-Mart – unless absolutely necessary.
     By the way, on 9/3/1959, Mom and Dad were married! I was born 10 months and 14 days later! Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me life!

My comments to Wal-Mart: I appreciate the opportunity to address my “store experience” of today, Saturday, March 7, 2009. I shopped at Store #1319. I regret that your online survey disallowed comments, but, after searching through your website maze, I found this means to express myself.

I am skeptical that change will arise from these remarks. At least, I may vent by this means. I am a lowly customer, who, by sheer practicality, may continue to shop, less often, at Wal-Mart, since few similar options are available conveniently. (Oh, a Target is nearby. Perhaps, I will shop there more often.) I am one of many, who shop at Wal-Mart, but who desire other options. (The Lowes employee, who assured me by phone earlier that Lowes stocks my bulbs, shared a similar view.) Unfortunately, you have eliminated much of the competition. My skepticism arises from my opinion that your concern, as a "retail giant," for one customer is lost in the larger world of number-crunching profitability.

The crux of my “experience” is that I am extremely frustrated by key items being unavailable, while being surrounded by a million products. It is not ironic? Interestingly, I interacted with two other shoppers, who also sought products that were not available.

Now, to the specifics of my “experience,” despite buying other items, the primary intent of my shopping was to purchase (1) four 21-inch florescent bulbs (better stock up, since they are rarely available!), (2) black, blue, red, and yellow ink cartridges for my Brother MFC-420CN, and (3) Pantene Curls mousse (for my wife). Of course, these items were not available. I would have spent almost $100.00 more. That is $100.00 in your debt column and one frustrated shopper in your credit column -- hardly a winning balance sheet for Wal-Mart.

I am not one who gives up, walks out, and returns another day, in hope of finding these items. Instead, I extracted my pound of flesh from your polite and understanding management. Gregg was very helpful, as he inquired from others, regarding the availability of the bulbs and cartridges. By his assistance, I learned that Wal-Mart darn well has no intent to ever stock the 21-inch florescent bulbs. Why? I don’t know, nor does he. The fixture is only five years old. 21-inch bulbs should have their rightful place, between the 18-inch and 24-inch selections. (Is Wal-Mart prejudiced against 21-inch bulbs? Alas, I jest!) Again, from Gregg’s inquiries, I learned that Wal-Mart no longer sells Brother printers; hence, I understand why the store will not continue to carry the cartridges. (Sorry, Brother. You must not have jumped through all the hoops to have your products placed on the coveted Wal-Mart shelves.) The lingering question, however, is: Why can I find black, red, and yellow cartridges at Store #2310 and find only red cartridges at Store #1319, but I can’t find the necessary blue cartridge at either store? (Is Wal-Mart prejudiced against blue? Is that not one of your store colors? But, again, I jest!)

What is my solution? Well, I found the mousse at CVS, buying two bottles at $4.49 each. Lowes has my 21-inch bulbs at $5.98 each. (I plan to buy four.) Office Max has all four of my cartridges, at a total cost of $63.98. I will shop more at Target, Dollar General, CVS, Office Max, and Lowes.

What is your loss? $96.88 in sales. What is your “gain?” One disgruntled customer, who will share his experience with others. Yes, this little article is posted on my blog! It is in expanded form, without your restriction on the number of characters. What is your solution? Let’s see if you respond. I will not hold my breath.

WHY I LEFT (published 3-7-2009)

Today, while exploring the Internet, being too lazy to explore a mountain, I discovered the article Study to examine why some leave Churches of Christ,” The Christian Chronicle, by Bobby Ross Jr., 3/1/2009, regarding why members leave the Church of Christ. The article points to a Churches of Christ Survey being conducted by Flavil Yeakley, the director of the Harding Center for Church Growth, in Searcy, Arkansas. The following are my responses to the survey questions:

1. Why did you leave the Churches of Christ? I served in full-time ministry for 14 years, including five years as a missionary. I was a member of the Church of Christ for 26.5 years, including four years before my full-time ministry and 8.5 years after. I am still a member of Christ’s church.

First, I left the Church of Christ, finally, because I could not continue to associate with a group that – by a doctrinal implication that does not understand grace fully – concludes that the soul of my godly mother, who passed away in 2000, is destined for hell, since she was a member of the Baptist Church. Silently, I disagreed with the implication for 7.5 years, uncomfortably taking my place on the pew, as I moved from lifeless congregation to lifeless congregation in the area.

My mother was saved by God’s grace, and she lived her life as a humble and shining example of God’s loving grace in her life. She may have had sincere misunderstandings on certain points of doctrine, which the Church of Christ stresses, but she was saved by God’s grace. Her salvation was not determined by her perfect doctrinal understanding but by her sincere, if imperfect, faith response to God’s free gift.

Second, I left the Church of Christ, because I could no longer tolerate the arrogant hypocrisy of that body, which, by implication, denies the fullness of grace, by asserting that its doctrinal understanding is correct and that all who disagree are in need of salvation. Yes, the body of Christ is exclusive, in that it is composed of all who are saved by grace through faith. The Church of Christ, however, in its legalistic and elementary understanding of grace, cannot, with a straight face, lay claim to being the exclusive body of Christ. My God and my God’s grace are bigger than that.

Third, I left the Church of Christ, because I realized that the standard hermeneutical approach of its members is a foreign imposition on scripture. The model views scripture as a legal code and interprets scripture by using a legal method. Scripture, in particular the New Testament, is composed primarily of inspired and authoritative but occasional letters. Interpreting occasional letters as legal code represents the imposition of foreign scaffolding on the text. This scaffolding skews the focus from grace to legalistic accuracy in obedience. Certainly, grace inspires our attempt to follow Christ’s will as accurately as humanly possible. Our salvation, however, is not merited by how perfectly we follow an understanding of Christ’s law that is skewed in its understanding by a legalistic approach to hermeneutics.

Fourth, I left the Church of Christ, because its local congregations, at least in this area, are lifeless. The candlestick has been removed. The Spirit of Christ is not present. In His place is a spirit of legalism, which expects unquestioned conformity to the legal code. There is no freedom, without consequence, to question, explore, or discuss openly. I was shackled in my silence, feeling unable to openly engage in dialogue on the points in this commentary. I felt as if I would be ostracized, shunned, and labeled as a “change agent.” I am thankful that this forum allows me to express myself anonymously.

Finally, I left the Church of Christ, because my brothers and sisters of so many years were not concerned enough to offer supportive inquiry as to why I had left full-time ministry, after returning from the mission field. To this day, no one, not a one, has asked, “Why are you not preaching anymore?” Instead, their silence has greeted me.

In sum, I left the Church of Christ, for the reasons mentioned, because I have matured in my theological understanding, unfortunately, as brought about by my mother’s passing. If the Church of Christ can move beyond its elementary understanding of grace, I can re-embrace it. Otherwise, I am now free to find and identify with a true non-denominational body of Christ.

2. Do you have any advice or suggestions regarding things Churches of Christ could do to improve and do a better job of meeting the spiritual needs of those who are still members? First and foremost, church leaders should create a spirit of open, non-judgmental dialogue in the congregations. Allow members to feel free to question, discuss, and study without fear of labeling. Through this renewal effort, churches could be revived, members could be retained, and Christ could be honored.

Second, local congregations should seek comment from those who have left. Of course, if relationship ties and brotherly connections were strained, this attempt would be difficult. Still, with open and honest hearts, leaders should attempt unbiased, non-judgmental communication with those who have left.

Third, leadership in these congregations, after receiving feedback from ex-members, should implement plans to address the legitimate reasons why their former members left.

Finally, the Church of Christ should rethink its hermeneutical approach, with a primary focus on exploring the amazing depth of God’s grace.

3. If, when you left the Churches of Christ, you joined another religious group, what church did you join? Also, please comment on what you have found in that other church that meets your spiritual needs better than what Churches of Christ were doing. Currently, my wife and I are attending a non-denominational, community church that has ties to the Restoration Movement. In this body, we have found a rich understanding of grace, a natural, exegetical approach to scripture, and an authentic sense of community. This church is not without its problems. (Name one, that is.) It is, however, more truly in line with the purpose that Christ intended for his body.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Keyes on Obama (published 3-1-2009, updated 12-5-2022)

He’s my candidate - an independent, conservative voice for the future! (I, too, voted for him in the 2000 Republican primary.) Sadly, Alan Keyes’ articulation is too direct and bold for the lily-livered, touchy-feely, mainstream.

Of course, if the mainstream is heading toward the sewer, we must keep paddling toward fresh water!

(Please hit the title link. It will take you to my friend’s website (Stock Market and Political Commentary), where the link is found.)

12/5/2022 update: Yesterday, I noticed that this brief 3/1/2009 article had three views in the last 24 hours. I wondered what I'd written 13 years ago. Today, I added the published and updated dates to the title. I enlarged the font. I added the citation for the image of Alan Keyes. Please note that the title link to the “Stock Market and Political Commentary” article is no longer valid, so the link is now unknown. The main link to my friend's website is still valid, but the author is no longer active. The author is still my friend.

Fuzzy Math (published 3-1-2009)

Math wasn’t my best subject in school; I’ll admit. Of course, I made decent grades, but math didn’t excite me. Still yet, I know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide – without a calculator.

(Don’t get me sidetracked! These “guvmint edukatd” kids know all about self-esteem, but they get that deer in the headlights look, when, at the drive thru, they ask for $3.56 for the biscuit meal, and you give them $4.06. You see, the cash register, which won’t work during a power outage, had already told them how much change to return, if I provided $4.00. Do it for fun sometime! Usually, you have to tell them how much change to give you.)

Well, back to the point, let’s see, our new savior (oops! President) indicates that government must live within its means. Yes, that’s right folks. We’re going to cut government spending, waste, and fraud! Great! Good ol’ W should have done that, instead of going on his drunken spending spree. Well, good for the Obamanator. (Yes, W turned me from a Reagan Republican to a disillusioned Independent.)

But, wait, there’s one little additional point. Let’s spend about a gazillion dollars to stimulate the economy. Let’s get over 8,000 earmarks in there. The fate of the country hangs in the balance, depending on research into the mating habits of the earthworm, ad nauseam.

So, all the punditry aside, we will spend a Pacific Ocean of money while, at the same time, try to cut back on spending a Pacific Ocean of money. That’s the bottom line. Logical? Not at all.

What’s the problem? Well, too many “guvmint edukatd” lemmings are drinking Kool-Aid from the poisoned trough of socialism. Tax and spending our way out of a recession is not the answer. Growing government is not the answer. In fact, one can argue that government policy got us into this mess. Instead, look at the 1980s for the answer. But, alas, the democrats are galloping toward socialism. Many republicans are speed walking toward it. I am just sitting back, awaiting the inevitable. Perhaps, a new conservative spirit will rise eventually from the ashes.

Unless, of course, the new math that the kids are learning is correct: A gazillion spent + a gazillion saved = a gazillion!

What say you?

Big Brother Got Me! (published 3-1-2009; updated 11-1-2022)

Well, it had to happen! Big Brother got the Appalachian Irishman – caught on candid, not-a-real-cop, but-we're-goin'-to-make-a-buck camera!

Yeah, yeah, so I did run the red light! As I recall, the yellow light was on when I started under. It must have lasted 0.62 seconds. Of course, as most vile criminals of my ilk state, the guy behind me would have eaten bumper, if I had come screeching to a halt at the light!

Worse, yet, when I paid cash for my little truck eight years ago, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and her sister had to pick him up, after I had left the salesman, who had needed to make a sale, weeping at his desk. (I had to get to work.) For some reason, the ditsy get-the-tag person had placed Mrs. Appalachian Irishman’s name above mine on the title. I suppose since she picked up the truck. So, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, who arrived home before I did, was quite perturbed when the ticket came in her name! Yeah, okay, I’ll pay the stinking $50.00 fine and ask Big Brother to put my name first on the title. I have to live with the little lady, you know.

Entrepreneurial idea: Could someone out there create some type of product that would not allow these socialist cameras to read your license plate? Of course, the plate must still be legible to the naked eye. Any ideas?

By the way, let’s brag on my truck. We paid cash for him eight years ago, when he was six years old. He had about 84,000 miles on him. Now, he has over 222,000 miles on the clock. He doesn't use oil. He starts right up. He's a Nissan, built in Tennessee.

Does anyone still want to bail out the American motor companies? Another idea: since we, the lowly taxpayer, must bail out these companies, why don’t we demand a new vehicle, after they straighten out their mess and become profitable again? Don’t hold your breath.

11/1/2022, Tuesday, note: thirteen years have passed, since I published this article. Today, my website analytics showed that someone had viewed this article in the last 24 hours. All I did today was add this note and add the published and updated dates to the original title. I still like what I wrote, on 3/1/2009! I am proud to say that no other speed camera cop has nailed me! I miss my ol' 1995 Nissan hardbody. He died, trying to save my life, on 3/29/2016. His spirit, however, lives on, in my 2006 Nissan Frontier!