A Conversation With Celery

No matter how you try to dress up a piece of celery, it’s just plain boring.  You could fill it with caviar and garnish it with gold, but anybody with an I.Q. greater than an amoeba  could see through the disguise.  When you pick up a limp piece of celery, it flops over like an arthritic old man on a rainy Monday morning. Celery is depressing; it’s the Eeyore of vegetables.

The other day I was speaking with someone who reminded me of celery.  I was fighting to pay attention, but all I could imagine was a limp piece of celery with hair and a face.  When it was my turn to respond, I was suddenly in an episode of Veggie Tales, and I had to refrain myself from bursting into a rousing rendition of  “The Dance of the Cucumber.”  On the drive home, it dawned on me that one of my primary duties as a parent is to ensure that my children develop personalities greater than a stalk of celery.

Of all the interesting personalities in the Bible, David is my favorite.  Maybe that’s because he was a “man after God’s own heart,” which would certainly add flavor to anyone’s personality.  David was the life of the party, a man who could play the harp, fight off giants, and run a kingdom in his spare time.

When Samuel had to select the next king over Israel, he invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice to choose the Lord’s anointed one.  One by one, Jesse’s sons walked the runway, but Samuel couldn’t find the right guy.  I love the fact that David wasn’t there.  He was off tending the sheep, so Samuel had to send for him.  Casual and unassuming, ruddy and handsome, David showed up late to the party and made his appearance all the more dramatic.  A green pepper in the midst of celery.

DAVID: (humming) La la la la la…huh? Hey, everybody!  What are you doing here?  (Samuel pours oil over his head) Whoa!

SAMUEL:  I anoint you in the name of the Lord.  The power of the Lord is now upon you.

DAVID:  Cool!  Let’s go kill some giants!

David had the X factor, and he even played the harp.  That’s kind of like that moment on American Idol when you love someone’s voice, and then one week they suddenly whip out a guitar and show a whole new talent.  Saul had an evil spirit tormenting him, and his attendants knew that music would heal his soul.  I can only imagine the initial suggestions.

ATTENDANT 1:  I’m learning how to play the pan flute.

ATTENDANT 2:  My four-year-old can play the glockenspiel.

SAUL:  You’re both fired.  Anyone else have a less idiotic suggestion?

1 Samuel 16:18

One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp.  He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man.  And the LORD is with him.” 

From this one suggestion, we learn many great qualities of David.  He was so likeable that Saul chose him to be one of his armor-bearers.  When Goliath, the Philistine giant, was terrorizing the Israelites, David was the only one willing to fight him.  Goliath had a little too much personality; he was more like a jalapeño pepper.  Sure, anyone could have killed Goliath with a 12-gauge shotgun.  David did it with a stone and a sling.  One shot to the forehead. Goodbye.  Apparently just killing Goliath was too ordinary, so David sliced off his head and carried it around with him for a while.  Maybe used it in a ventriloquist act.

My favorite “David moment” is when he returned with the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6:14

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might.

David made this move popular way before Tom Cruise danced in his underwear.  But his wife Michal was disgusted by his public display of unbridled joy.  David’s response shows the origin of his zeal.

2 Samuel 6:21

It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel –

I will celebrate before the LORD.

David had such a fervor for God that it bubbled up and boiled over into an ebullient display of elation.  His love was not hindered by ritualistic worship or a phony display of passion for the Lord.  He did not have to try too hard to be funny or interesting; his personality evolved from genuine love and enthusiasm.

The other night my kids were getting ready for bed when a song on the radio made them start to dance.

“Hey, this song is about JESUS!” my four-year-old announced.

Throwing hands up in the air and dancing around the room in their underwear,  they had no idea how silly they looked, nor did they care.  It had been a rough day, the kind where I second-guessed my abilities as a parent.  But as I watched their spontaneous, uninhibited dance of joy, I thought of David’s celebration and smiled.

Somewhere in between celery and a jalapeño is all I ask.

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Jesus Picks the Top 12 With Ryan Seacrest

For those of you concerned about world domination, the day has come.  Ryan Seacrest has officially taken over the world.  What we thought was just an innocuous gig on American Idol has spawned into a myriad of radio and television shows,  movie cameos, hosting jobs, and even commercials for Scope featuring his Cheshire grin.  His voice is everywhere; with future technology it will probably be pumped into our living rooms, Big Brother style. Or maybe dentists will implant a molar microchip that will stream his radio show into our heads.  His picture is plastered on billboards, in magazines, and just the other day I thought I saw him looking over my shoulder in the mirror.

He has already taken over Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, Dick Clark, and let’s be honest — Simon Cowell. It’s just a matter of time before he surreptitiously rules the world.  Is anyone alarmed?  Well, no.  He’s just so adorable that everyone wants to pinch his cheeks and have him over for an afternoon snack.  And while we innocently prepare the milk and cookies, he’s scheming his next takeover. 

The ubiquitous Seacrest appears to have been around since the beginning of time.  It’s rather suspicious that many of the ideas used on American Idol seem to have been taken from The Bible. 

Matthew 25:31-33

When the Son of Man comes in his glory…all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another…

He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

After contestants on Idol receive their fate, they must either head to the stools on the right or the left, depending on the outcome.  Oh, that’s original.

There’s even a week of trial and tribulation so great that it’s referred to as “Hell Week.”  Where did they steal that from?

Matthew 24:21

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again.

There’s the building of suspense that Seacrest uses to hook people to watch the results show.  The idea that no one, not even the judges, can imagine the shocking elimination to come.  A technique he borrowed from the Master. 

Matthew 25:36

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father.

But the most blatant rip-off of all is certainly the selection of the Top 12 Idol finalists.  Jesus spent a night praying on a mountainside, and then he chose twelve of his disciples and designated them apostles.  Imagine what it would have been like if Ryan Seacrest had hosted this momentous occasion.  The dramatic back-stories of the contestants: Peter’s struggles as a fisherman, Matthew’s days as a tax collector.   The long, suspenseful walk up the mountain to discover their fate.  The announcement to the crowd that they would find out the winners…after the break.

Of course, ultimately there could only be one winner standing.  Peter made it to the finale, but Jesus was the ultimate winner.  And if you vote for him, you will win, too, in the end.  Just don’t be surprised when you get to the pearly gates and discover Ryan Seacrest waiting to announce your arrival to all the other contestants with the golden tickets.