Archive for August, 2013

The Apartment Jack Lemmon

Among such articles as “How to Clean Like a Man” and “Heading out on Your Own: Establish a Simple Cleaning Routine,” you’ll find an article at The Art of Manliness blog site, entitled “How to Make a Great First Impression with Your Place.”  It’s all about preparing your place for a date to first meet your place.  I like it because it’s practical and applies to anyone wishing to make a good impression with their home or apartment, but I especially like that the article does not lead to the unmarried couple in bed.  It’s just a straight article on preparing one’s place for a special guest.  Although its first tip is to “get rid of the man-funk,” the advice is sound for anyone looking to have guests and wanting to make a good first impression.  Here’s a summary of the game plan:

A.  Get Rid of the Man-Funk (odors) – said to be the “most cited infraction for men’s bachelor pads.”

1.  Start a couple days early – even ask an outside party to help identify the worst.

2.  Eliminate the most obvious smell offenders – dirty laundry (include bed sheets), bathrooms, dirty dishes (don’t forget to run the disposal).

3.  Go easy on the Axe (or any other masking scent) – the mixed odors are a “recipe for disaster.”

B.  Be Clean, Not Sterile – deal with general cleanliness issues, it doesn’t have to be a furniture showroom.

1.  Vacuum – while attesting to the clean feel vacuuming leaves, the author says, “No bachelor in the world vacuums his place enough.”

2.  Mop or dust all wood or tile floors and baseboards.

3.  Dust flat surfaces – this means a cloth and spray.

4.  Have all the dishes put away.

5.  Make the bed – personally I’ve always thought that when one’s bed is made, the tone for the rest of the housekeeping is set.

6.  Pick up and organize – a small stack of books here or work still out on the desk can make a home look lived in, but find a place for everything and have most things in their places.

7.  Making a habit of these practices makes lighter the preparation for the occasional guest.

C.  Display Your Personality

1.  “Manly” art – lose the babe posters and the never-ending sports memorabilia.

2.  Display some photos that say something about your life – family, travels, interests, etc.

3.  Don’t hide things – if there’s something you enjoy, don’t hide those things that best reflect you.  Just don’t overdo it.  “If your’e questioning whether it’s too much, it probably is.”

4.  Be prepared for some snooping – don’t have anything in “eyeshot” that you’d find embarrassing.

D.  Pets – corralling the pet for a first visit may be best.  Be aware of pet sensitivities or allergies and be sure to vacuum the furniture on which your pet lounges.

E.  Bathroom – the room for greatest offense in which basic hygiene and simple considerations are often neglected.

1.  Clean it… thoroughly (note: no hair anywhere).  Use multi-purpose cleaner on all surfaces, make that toilet bowl sparkle (note: clean under the seat well too), and tidy the vanity.

2.  Keep an air freshener at the ready – subtly scented not overpowering

3.  Have toilet paper.

4.  Have a fresh soap and a well laundered, dry towel out.

5.  Have a bag-lined trash can.

6.  Advertise your good hygiene, by washing your hands after using the bathroom no matter what did or did not happen in there.  (Exiting seconds after the flush, can take away your guest’s enthusiasm for dinner.)

F.  Kitchen

1.  Have, at the very least, the essentials in your cupboards and pantry – if you’re uncertain what the essentials are… there’s a post for that too!

2.  Have at least one set of matching dishes… that aren’t plastic.

3.  Have more than just junk food – examples: fresh fruit and veggies, pita chips and hummus, etc.

4.  Offer a variety of beverages – at least a few – soda, coffee, tea, ice water with lemon, iced tea, juice, wine (if you drink)

5.  Keep it clean – spic and span and smelling nice.

G.  Bedroom – unkempt bed and strewn clothes are a common sight in men’s bedrooms, but “if your most personal space is messy, it’s a good bet that’s closer to the real you than the rest of your place.”

1.  Make the bed – build the habit by making your bed every morning.  When giving a tour of the place, a made bed shows you care about the details.

2.  Pick up your clothes and don’t have an overflowing hamper – clothes folded and put away (a good practice at any time).

3.  A bed frame and headboard help – at least no mattresses on the floor if you want to convey stability and “put-togetherness.”

H.  From the comments –

1.  About the bathroom:  trash can – emptied; toilet seat – down

2.  As an extension to the inside of the home…

            a.  Keep your car reasonably clean – quick vacuums, car washes, dash/surfaces wiped down.  As another put it: old food wrappers and cups do not impress.

            b.  Yard and deck – Lawn cut, deck furniture and grill clean, cover is not torn, etc.

3.  Have movie-time snacks: popcorn, pretzels, etc.

4.  Have 2 sets of sheets so one is always clean and ready for change.

5.  A couple houseplants if you can keep them alive (this was mentioned by several readers).  As a bonus:  English Ivy, Spider Plants, and Peace Lilies are all good air cleaners too.

6.  To freshen the air, open the window – the longer the better.

7.  Bake some cookies to make the place smell “homey.”  Other ideas: bread baking, fresh brewed coffee.

8.  If you can afford it, get a cleaner – job done.  Another added:  This does not mean that your house is dirty or un-hygienic until the cleaner comes, but I am big believer in paying ‘experts’ to do things in life, or things that you don’t enjoy doing, especially if you can afford to.

9.  “A room without books is like a body without soul.”  ~Cicero
(Several mentioned putting good book collections on display.)

10. Have at least one comfortable place to sit.

11. Your apartment or home shouldn’t look like a random collection of crap you’ve collected from the street. It should look like it was put together with some thought.

12. Health and cleanliness show responsibility and long term thinking, women dig that!

13. Wash the shower curtain if you have one. Otherwise clean the cubicle.

14. A box of Kleenex in the bathroom, not just t.p.

15. Bad impressions: Piles of dirty laundry on the floor, with more piles of clean stuff on the couch. A big brown waterline in the toilet and no soap or clean towels in the bathroom. Dirty dishes in the sink.

16. Light a lightly-scented candle in the bathroom.

17. Get a set of matching dishes and glassware.  “No one, including your date, wants to drink wine from a coffee mug.”

18. “Any man older then 28, with stable professional employment, should have real furniture and not just a collection of mismatched furniture acquired in college.”

19. Make your home feel warm and inviting to her. It’s a big deal for most women to feel at ease in their man’s home. Offer basic hospitality like taking her coat, providing a glass of water and snack if dinner is far off, etc.

20. It is alright to ask your guest to bring something if she offers, like a bottle of wine or a side dish. For whatever reason, when you do this a woman then has a mental stake in the dinner date at your place.
21. Learn how to make five or so basic recipes and make them well.

22. Make sure you clean under and behind the toilet bowl. Even if you’re being accurate when peeing, inevitably some will end up on the floor and this builds up over time. A toilet with streaks down the pedestal or a honky smell down the back is a major turn-off!

23. Finally this from Carol:

Just remember, if you do these things to impress, but they aren’t actually your regular habits, then:
a. eventually the truth will come out;
b. I’ll be disappointed you aren’t actually clean/neat/a reader, and the fine opinion you tried to cultivate will dissipate;
c. I’ll wonder what else you’re presenting to me as you is also a sham, or in what other ways are you not being very honest.
So, as the article suggests multiple times, make these regular habits of your own, not just something you do the first few times a lady comes over.

[Photo: Jack Lemmon in The Apartment]

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C.S. Lewis wrote a letter on May 14, 1954 to Sheldon Vanauken who sought help in counseling students with questions about Christianity and homosexuality.  Vanauken shared Lewis’ response (as well as 17 other letters from C.S.) in his book A Severe Mercy [reprint: HarperOne, 2009, pp. 146-148].  Reminded of this letter from a recent post by Mark Shea, Justin Taylor has posted Lewis’ response.  He has spelled-out the abbreviations, but maintained the original emphasis.

For clarity’s sake, Lewis begins, “I have seen less than you, but more than I wanted of this terrible problem. I will discuss your letter with those whom I think wise in Christ.”  Lewis does not preach to the gay demographic in general.  He seeks to address the spiritual nature of the struggle for the homosexual wishing to bring his entire being under the dominion of Christ.

Lewis clarifies his position from the outset: “I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin,” but adds, “this leaves the homosexual no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying.”

He continues:

Our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (John 9:1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God should be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition.

What should the positive life of the homosexual be? I wish I had a letter which a pious male homosexual, now dead, once wrote to me—but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women could not give. But it is all horribly vague and long ago. Perhaps any homosexual who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g. by mock or quasi-marriage with a member of one’s own sex even if this does not lead to any carnal act) is the wrong way. Jealousy (this another homosexual admitted to me) is far more rampant and deadly among them than among us. And I don’t think little concessions like wearing the clothes of the other sex in private is the right line, either. It is the duties, burdens, the characteristic virtues of the other sex, I suspect, which the patient must try to cultivate. I have mentioned humility because male homosexuals (I don’t know about women) are rather apt, the moment they find you don’t treat them with horror and contempt, to rush to the opposite pole and start implying that they are somehow superior to the normal type.

I wish I could be more definite. All I have really said is that, like all other tribulations, it must be offered to God and His guidance how to use it must be sought. 

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Can anything good come out of California?  Well, if I didn’t have a beloved aunt and uncle and other extended family living there I’d have to say no.  Even so, a Lot-like escape for them (with all remaining salt-free) would be welcome by this niece (Genesis 19).  We have surely crossed the Rubicon and there seems no stopping the whirlwind to come – that is, the natural end to secular hedonism (vs. Christian hedonism) and the world is following suit. 


California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the nation’s first law catering to students who believe they are transgender.  There is no limit to their every whim… boys who wish to use the girls bathrooms, girls locker rooms… you’ve got it!  Girls who want to sing in the men’s choir… not a problem.  The western world is falling over itself to promote the homosexual lifestyle, being careful to avoid any Emperorer’s New Clothes-like declarations.  Even the United States Air Force in Los Angeles hired the drag queen group “Jewels and the Brunchettes” to perform at their Diversity Day event, supposedly in solidarity with the gay rights movement. 


There have been many to sound the alarm as to the slippery path we were trodding.  First the language needed to be managed.  Instead of homosexual… now it’s same-sex or gay.  Instead of partners… now they’re couples.  Instead of civil unions… now it’s marriage.  In the face of obvious contradictions, why work so hard to change the language?  As Doug Wilson has questioned, why would we call “marriage” that which looks completely different (not two people of differing sexes), is consummated in a totally different manner (obviously), and is unable to bring about the same result (children)? 


What’s in a name? Despite Juliet’s love-sick pining, is an object’s name irrelevant to our experience of it?   Anne of Green Gables did not think so and neither do the social engineers of our day.  The current social battle is for a thing so obviously not marriage, both in the senses that Doug Wilson mentions (above) or in any dictionary written before 2000.  Why wouldn’t proponents just give it its own name and fight for it as a civil right?  No, co-opting the language is of great importance. By attaching their objective to the language of a legitimately-recognized mainstream activity, they gain respectability and produce a sense of a common bond with those in traditional marriages.  Even though it’s a completely different activity with no apparent societal interest (i.e. child-bearing), once it is called marriage and viewed in a traditional light, those who wish to preserve the traditional meaning of the word are deemed cold and unfeeling.  The transformation of the meaning of this word seems virtually complete.  Even those in the church speak now of homosexual marriage or same-sex marriage, even while denying its possibility. 

George Orwell was apparently correct when he warned, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”  Pedophiles are now calling themselves “minor-attracted persons” and claiming theirs is a sexual orientation, not a deviance.  They are seeking equal rights, hoping to ride the shirttails of the homosexual movement.  Again, the language must be overcome, so Dr. Gregory Herek, a fellow of the APA and the Association for Psychological Science and past recipient of the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology, makes a tactical maneuver in writing, “’Pedophilia’ and ‘child molestation’ are used in different ways, even by professionals.”


The term is a bit harsh, but the definition applies here – Wikipedia defines the term useful idiots as “people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they do not understand, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.”  There are those who display their bumper stickers, sign petitions, share posts on Facebook, write letters to the editors, and blog – all believing themselves to be agents of change for the cause.  Little do they know they are cynically being used as tools in the hands of the true leader of the cause. 


So again, why is this issue so important?  I suggest the enemy of our souls to be the true leader of this cause, using whatever mouthpieces will serve his agenda.  But to what end?  Beyond the destruction of body and soul of those made in the image of God (see July 23 post, Who Am I? Part I), Doug Wilson believes it is to ultimately force a choice between sexual libertinism and religious liberty.  “Depend upon it — you can’t have both.” 


Now, I do not write to rally the troops for battle, to “take our country back.”  Nor do I speak in any way of hatred or abuse of homosexuals.  Indeed, they demand our pity as any other person held hostage by their sin.  They are collateral damage in the enemy’s war against his Maker.  I speak, here, only to those who claim to be of the Church.  I wonder if the church itself, within its walls and from its pulpits, will continue to hold fast to Scripture in light of a society that demands not only tolerance any more, but acceptance of its every desire?   We’ve already seen several branches turn and give allegiance to society’s pressures and embrace sexual libertinism.  No wonder Christ asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)


Pastor Dave Monreal sees another reason this issue is so important to the enemy of our God: 


“Why does the enemy care that much about destroying the institution of marriage?  Well it’s his nature (“the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” John 10:10).  But beyond this, we need to understand, that God uses marriage, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, as an illustration of his relationship with his people.    Ultimately, marriage was designed by God to be a living illustration of Christ’s relationship to his people, the Church.  The full expression is found in the culminating celebration of the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation 19, but as we see…in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul tells us that marriage is an illustration of a greater reality – of Christ’s love for his Church.  It’s an illustration of the gospel; it’s an illustration of God’s covenant relation with his people.  And so the destruction of the institution of marriage and the concept in people’s minds goes beyond just the reality of marriage, but it goes to distort the very Word of God, itself.  And so we see that marriage is under [spiritual] attack.” (Sermon, 06.23.13)


Both Wilson and Monreal would warn us that we are in a cosmic spiritual battle and, of course, we have been since our federal head, Adam, first listened to the father of lies (Genesis 3).  Pastor Monreal:


“The enemy would love nothing more than to attack the good thing which God has created… John Owen wrote on sin [which applies equally to the tempter]:  ‘Every time [he] rises up to tempt or entice, might [he] have [his] own course, it would go to the utmost sin of that kind.  Unclean thought or glance would go to adultery if it could, every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.’ 


“As sin is in this life, so is Satan in this world, wanting to take to the farthest degree possible, not to re-write the definition of marriage, to broaden it, to represent any two people in a so-called committed relationship, but ultimately to distort and destroy the concept of marriage in peoples’ minds so that it is no longer recognized and it is discarded and disregarded.


Today it is homosexual marriage, but the promotion of polygamy is in its seed form.  “Lest we think that’s such a far-fetched reality, keep in mind the television shows on cable television that are beginning to normalize polygamy.”  Pastor Monreal warns of the progression of sin in a society:


“First we joke about it.
Then we tolerate it.

Then we accept it.
Then we embrace it.
Then we promote it.
Then we stop opposition.”


It’s been asked in this space before:  “If the foundations are destroyed, what will the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).  Depend upon it – you can’t have both.

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Dad with daughters II- snip
In God’s good providence, a Father’s Day sermon by Chuck Swindoll was re-aired today on my dad’s 73rd birthday.  I share it with two purposes.  One is to enter into, but minutely, the complexities of what it means to be a man and father in our day and to applaud the men and fathers in my life – what a job, what a responsibility!  What would we do without you?

The second purpose is to personalize Swindoll’s message a bit and to thank my dad, Ray, for being the man and father his family needed.  As Swindoll says, we didn’t (and don’t) expect you to be perfect.  We couldn’t live with you if you were, because, as you may have noticed, we are not perfect ourselves.

Swindoll begins with the musings of Ohio journalist, D. L Stewart on Why Fathers Hide Their Feelings.  Stewart relives a conversation he had with his 14 year old son from the back seat of the car as they drove home from a speaking engagement that Stewart had just given and which concluded with generous applause.  His son said, “I really admire you, Dad… to get up there and give a speech like that.  You always know what to say to people.  You always seem to know what you’re doing.”

Stewart explains to the reader that he didn’t know what to say.  He blushed, he thanked his son, he told him someday he’d feel comfortable speaking to an audience, etc.  “But what I really wanted to say to my son was that his father was not all that he appeared to be, and that being a man is frequently a façade.”  Stewart writes:

It’s different for fathers than it is for mothers.
Motherhood is honest, close to the surface.
Mothers don’t have to hide what they feel.
They don’t have to pretend.

When there are sounds downstairs in the middle of the night, a mother is allowed to pull the covers over her head and hope that they will go away.  A father is supposed to put on his slippers and robe and march boldly down the stairs, even if he’s pretty sure it’s the Manson family in the kitchen waiting for him.

When the road signs are confusing and the scenery is looking awfully unfamiliar, It’s perfectly o.k. for the mother to pull over to the side of the road and ask directions from the first person who comes along.  A father is supposed to know exactly where he’s going, even if he has to drive 200 miles out of the way to prove it.

[At this point, Swindoll couldn’t help but embellish:  Isn’t that funny?  Mothers always have the right to stop and ask, but fathers…”oh no, I know where I’m going.”  He’ll drive right into the Pacific Ocean – “I planned this!  I wanted us to see this part of the beach,” he’ll say.]


When the electricity goes out, no one questions a mother who simply lights a few candles and waits for a repairman.  But everyone wonders about a father who doesn’t pick up a screwdriver and head for the basement, even if he doesn’t know his fuse box from a sump pump.

Mothers can admit to the real estate agent they don’t know a thing about fixed-rate interest and balloon payments and second mortgages.  Fathers, however, are supposed to nod their heads and pretend it all makes perfect sense.

Mothers can bang the lid of a new jar of peanut butter on the floor until the lid is loose enough to open.  Fathers are supposed to twist the lid off with their bare hands without getting red in the face.

Mothers who lose their jobs are unfortunate.  Fathers who lose their jobs are failures.

When a mother gets hurt, she may want to swear, but she’s only allowed to cry.  When a father gets hurt, he may want to cry, but he’s only allowed to swear.

I should have told my boy, that the reason his father, like a lot of fathers, doesn’t admit his weaknesses, is because he’s afraid someone will think he’s not a real man.   More important, what I should have said to my 14 year old in the car that night, is that someday when he’s a father, he’ll feel fear and self-doubt, and pain… and that it’s alright.

But my father never told me, and I haven’t told my son.

 Swindoll concludes:

“And so, Dads, it’s alright.  I have several jars at home I still can’t get open and it is frightening when I lift the hood of my car… to do anything but say, ‘My, that is interesting.’

“But, hats off, today, to all the men who have endured childbirth without anesthesia.  And to all the men who have stayed awake throughout a piano recital – hats off.  And hats off to all the men who have placed the keys into the hands of a child with a brand new driver’s license and then raced upstairs and plunged to your knees in prayer that somehow they will find their way back.

“This is a day to say (if you have him on Earth), ‘Thank you, Dad.’  But if you don’t have him, to look up and say, ‘Thank you, Father.’  Thank you for a man who wasn’t perfect, but he did invest some things in my life for which I am a better person.”

Here, allow me to personalize the good pastor a bit:

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers” (
Proverbs 17:6).

In my father, there is that sense of a thumbprint… that character glory.  There is that indelible mark, Dad, that you’ve left on your children, that mothers cannot leave.  I can’t explain why, but there is something about the glory that passes from father to child that is different than between mother and child. 

Oh, how valuable is the bonding in the young years, how important that there by flexibility in the growing years, how invaluable that there by credibility and integrity in the later years.  Throughout the process, your children have learned: “Our father is the glory of our lives!  He’s the one who taught us, modeled for us, lived with us through x, y, and z!”

Certainly, it is true…
The glory of your children, Ray, is their father.
Thank you, Dad… and hats off.

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