The Black Hills Passion Play is No More

Well, hopes of creating one family memory this summer have been dashed. It’s looking like this summer’s family vacation will find us heading to western South Dakota, and I was really hoping that our plans would be able to include a visit to the Passion Play in Spearfish, South Dakota. It’s one of my own earliest family vacation memories, I was looking forward to providing that experience to our kids as well. But it’s not to be.

I searched the Internet, and my searches hit dead ends. Uh Oh. Is it not in production any longer? My next step: an e-mail to someone at VisitSpearfish.com:

Hello, We are just starting to plan our summer vacation and I looked for info on the Passion Play. I remember going to that production when I was a kid, I was hoping to find info about it online, but I’m not finding anything. Is the Passion Play still in production?

The reply (in part):

Thank you for contacting Visit Spearfish, Inc. with your visitor inquiry. We regret to inform you that the Black Hills Passion Play retired August 31, 2008.

Bummer. I was really looking forward to sharing that experience.

Well, now the best I can do is use the Internet to take a stroll down memory lane. In doing so, I uncovered at least part of “the rest of the story” that I would have never known as a kid. Here are some of the interesting things I found:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_play

The Black Hills Passion Play was performed every summer for almost seventy years in Spearfish, South Dakota; this production was an American version of the Lünen Passion Play that was brought over in 1932 by immigrants who claimed that it had been produced since 1242.[7] The production was Americanized by seventh-generation Passion Player Josef Meier, who toured it around the country before bringing it to Spearfish in the 1930s; until its last performance on August 31, 2008, the show was produced under the auspices of Meier’s daughter Johanna, a world-famous opera singer who had her debut in the play at the age of five weeks.

An article from Time magazine, published during World War II, gives an interesting historical perspective on the production: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777543,00.html

And here’s a wonderful writeup of the play’s history and purpose: http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/travel/no_sub_ministry/2009/03-31/passion-for-the-passion. This article revives some of my more vivid memories of the Passion Play:

With Lookout Mountain as a backdrop, the play’s magnificent three-block-long stage readily transports viewers back to the days of Christ. All the characters and animals of ancient Jerusalem are here: donkeys, water girls filling jugs, flocks of sheep, Roman soldiers on white horses, unscrupulous merchants, and cages of doves.

Portrayed by an interdenominational cast of more than 150 people, the play’s imagery is both simple and profound. As the Last Supper fades to black, the Lord’s chalice begins to glow, the symbol of his blood illuminating the very essence of Christianity. Each of the 22 scenes — triumphal entry to Resurrection — unfolds into the next, with no intermissions or set changes.

When the Christus is carried into the tomb, the shrouded body imparts a personal revelation for many playgoers. “The Bible was no longer words; it became flesh for me,” one viewer said.

I had really hoped to personally experience this production one more time as an adult, to fully appreciate it from both an artistic and spiritual perspective. Time moves on, but it’s a disappointment to me that this is one event that will no longer be experienced.

“North Dakota Nice” During a Traffic Accident

Our office is near a busy intersection in Fargo, and that means every so often we have the opportunity to do some rubbernecking and see a traffic accident unfold. That happened last week, and I keep finding myself thinking about that accident and the “North Dakota Nice” that I observed afterwards. First, the accident details: the accident appeared to have involved an older gentleman whose car was pulling a trailer and somehow ended up in a left-turn lane on the wrong side of the median, and two other vehicles (ironically, they were courtesy vehicles from two different auto dealers here in town).

While the cleanup was underway I noticed the “North Dakota Nice” traffic pattern … or what one of my coworkers called the zipper pattern. One lane of traffic could move forward with no obstructions, the other lane was blocked by the accident. Of course many people in the blocked lane didn’t notice the reason for their sudden stop until they were upon the accident. So the drivers in the free-moving lane of traffic would, without fail, work the zipper pattern: the person in front would let one person in from the blocked lane and then moves on, and the pattern repeats itself with the new leader at the front of the line. (It’s so much easier to see that traffic pattern in action than it is to write about it!) And with that pattern in play the traffic kept moving at a somewhat normal pace.

That’s part of what makes living in North Dakota such a pleasurable experience. I don’t know if courtesies like that are commonly extended in other parts of the country. I suppose they are, but it just seems like it would happen here in North Dakota more than other places.

What do you think? Do any of you out-of-staters care to comment?

Connecting Dots Before Election Day

First dot: This excellent editorial titled Nothing Left to Covet. You can see the first bit of the article at www.worldmag.com, here’s the important part:

Fact No. 1 is that only 3 percent of all the taxpayers in the United States pay more in income taxes than the other 97 percent combined. Fact No. 2 is that even if you taxed that 3 percent of our population at a rate of 100 percent of their income, you wouldn’t produce enough additional revenue to cover the deficits our federal government is now incurring each year.

One more powerful point made in the editorial:

…at the end of the day, even if the tax law gets changed so that rich people have to pay 40 percent of their income instead of just 30 percent, the coveters end up with virtually none of that difference.

Second dot: Last Sunday’s sermon about Envy was very powerful and ties in very nicely with the editorial mentioned above. The sermon not only resonates on a personal level, but also on the larger national level when combined with the editorial.

It’s worth a listen, and a good reminder about how destructive envy can be. Pastor Matthew’s blog compliments the sermon and has more on the subject too.

Third dot: There will be no vote before election day to extend the tax cuts enacted by President Bush. I really dislike the way the term “tax cuts” is being thrown around. It makes it seem as though the high-income earners are being unfairly taxed by not paying enough … when in reality the percentage they pay is much more than us “common folk.” The higher tax rates for larger incomes is “politically correct” envy.

Fourth dot: Election day. This is when it all comes together. All the cowardly members of Congress who are too afraid to take a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts equalizations will need to answer to “We the People.” They’re willing to put what’s best for the country aside in favor of their own personal political agendas (called “reelection campaigns”). I can only hope “We the People” have enough spine to offset their cowardice.

A Real-Time Look at Social Media Growth

Recently, I ran across an interesting experiment put together by Gary Hayes, a web programmer and blogger. Using Flash, Gary created a social media “counter” that tracks, among other things, how many Facebook postings, tweets, and YouTube uploads are taking place in “real time,” based on the most recent growth rate data available for social media.

The application itself is pretty remarkable, and so are the numbers Gary uses to run his calculations. For example, every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every day, 50 million tweets are sent via Twitter. An incredible 900,000 blog posts are created daily. And 2.5 billion photos are added to Facebook every month.

See more at http://www.personalizemedia.com/garys-social-media-count/.

Throwing Stones (or Not)

Lately when I get thinking about the Bible I find my thoughts drifting to Nicodemus. I would like to learn more about him beyond the snapshots presented in the Bible. As I’ve attempted to dig deeper in the Bible to find out more about what made him tick I found myself reading John 8 in a way I’ve never read it before.

Anyone who’s done just a little bit of Bible study is probably familiar with the story: An adulterous woman gets dragged to Jesus by the religious leaders of Jesus’s day and they try to trap Jesus by asking him for his thoughts on stoning her. Jesus replied that whoever is without sin should throw the first stone. The religious elite responded by walking away.

In reading the story, the application of the lesson to be learned most often drifts to the religious scholars and Pharisees, and to the woman. But reading it lately I’ve found my attention focused on this thought. Jesus clearly said (as translated in The Message version of the Bible), “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Who’s the sinless one? Jesus, of course! Did he throw a stone? No, even though he had every right to!

This story ties in nicely with Romans 8:1 which says, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I find myself regretting throwing stones in the past, and will do my best to replace stones of condemnation with gentle nudges based in the love of Jesus.

Understanding the Real Life Social Network

When you hear the growth figures for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Facebook recently surpassed 500 million users (that’s half a billion, folks – more than the populations of the US, Canada, and Mexico combined), and Twitter reports 300,000 new accounts per day.

With all the chatter going on in the social sphere, what can small businesspeople like us do to keep from becoming just so much white noise? For starters, we need to put the numbers in context. Just because there are 500 million users on Facebook, that doesn’t mean we need to try to reach out to all 500 million of them. The fact is, many of those 500 million people are not truly even prospects for the goods and services we provide. Instead of focusing on the raw numbers and feeling overwhelmed, we should focus instead on the segment that applies to us… and on providing them with the same level of service and care we provide offline when we meet with clients face-to-face and one-on-one.

Google researcher Paul Adams put together an interesting slideshow that explains the “real life social network” and how it works. The slides cover all aspects of social networking, from the various types of relationships it nourishes, to audiences, challenges, solutions, and what it all means. I recommend checking it out (http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2).

Enough with the Bag Already!

You know what bugs me? Buying one small “something” and the cashier immediately puts it in a bag. When I just bought a small item or two that’s easy to carry the last thing I want at home is another plastic bag to throw away.

I’m not making an ultra-earth-aware statement … I believe it’s arrogant to think that us mere mortal humans can single-handedly mess up God’s creation (that’s a soapbox for another time!), but at the same time I feel it’s good stewardship to care for what’s around us, and it’s stewardship that requires no extra effort. (In fact, it requires less effort because the cashier can just skip the bag routing.) So I’d just rather not have that extra plastic bag. It’s just plain silly and wasteful to put something I can easily carry in my hand into a bag.

The Doctrine of Resolution

If I ever write a book, I think it will be titled something like The Doctrine of Resolution.

Resolution is nothing new … graphic design circles talk about resolution all the time to refer to the level of detail in a graphic. What looks perfect at a resolution of 72 pixles per inch may not look so good when the designer has the ability to zoom in to 300 pixels per inch.

As I move further into “I’ve had lots of experiences in this world” territory, I have really been able to apply the concept of resolution to so many things. A cake will turn out right if baked in an oven at 300 degrees. If the resolution of that temperation is the nearest 5 degrees, the cake will be fine (between 295 and 305 degrees). If the resolution of that temperature is 100 degrees, then I might (or might not) have a problem, depending where the “real” temperature falls in that range of 200-400 degrees.

Same thing with tire pressure. 35 pounds with a resolution of 2 pounds … not a problem. 35 pounds with a resolution of 15 pounds … potential for a problem.

An event scheduled to start at 7:05 (or 7:07) has a resolution different than an event scheduled to start at 7:00. People attending the 7:07 event would expect the event to start at 7:07. People attending the 7:00 event would expect the event to start at about 7:00.

As I’m writing this I find myself thinking, “This sounds a lot like relativism.” I want to point out that I do not subscribe to the ideas of relativism as it relates to spiritual issues. I believe the big-brushstroke difference is that my “doctrine” of resolution provides a way of looking at the extremes of absolutes.

So keep your eye open for the book. You’ll see it in about 30 years. (Or should I say in 28 years, 37 weeks, and 14 days!)

We Have a Baby Sitter … or … Point of Grace and Mark Schultz Concert

There are two different directions I could go with this post. I could talk about 1) the fact that our oldest child is now a capable babysitter, or 2) going to the Point of Grace – Mark Schultz concert. Both stories will ultimately converge, so here we go!

My wife and I knew several weeks ago we would be attending the Point of Grace – Mark Schultz concert. We knew we’d need a babysitter; it didn’t dawn on us that we might have a babysitter in our own house! We decided that Emily is old enough and responsible enough to take care of the nighttime activities, and indeed she was! She was able to do everything needed to take care of her younger sister and brother and make sure they got to bed safely.

That’s just one of a recent series of child-rearing landmarks we’ve celebrated. Others include my wife being gone for the weekend and not feeling like kids have driven me crazy, and being able to go through a buffet line with only one plate in our hand.

Now back to the concert. It was, as one might expect, an enjoyable concert. I’m not one to write-up music and concert reviews; suffice it to say that the concert was sold out, and well done. The interesting part for me was volunteering to help break down and pack up after the concert. There were about eight professionals managing the teardown, and about 12 volunteers to help. It really was an interesting experience seeing all the “parts” and loading those parts into touring quality shipping containers. The whole process took about 2-1/2 hours. The end result was a fully loaded semi truck.

The staffers said that after they left the concert they would go to a hotel for a 20-minute shower and then hop on the bus and sleep on the road as they travelled to the next concert venue (Duluth MN in this case). If I heard right and remember right, the bus sleeps fifteen.

And so ends a successful night with a child reaching a new level of responsibility, and an interesting night after a fun concert!

Free Legal Advice

I usually just ignore “bulk e-mail forwards” but this one felt a little more legitimate than most. Here’s the e-mail:

Not A Joke!!

Even If you dislike attorneys..You will love them for these tips. 

Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company:

1. Do not sign  the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts,  DO NOT put the complete  account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the  last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to it.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never  have your  SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.

4. Place the contentsof your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.  
But here’s some critical information to limit the damage  in case this happens to you or someone you know:

5. We have been told we should  cancel our  credit cardsimmediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

6.  File a  police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here’s what is perhaps  most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

7. Call  the  3 national credit reporting organizations  immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number.. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.  


The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves’ purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks..

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):  
1-800-269-0271

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything. 

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Not A Joke!!
Even If you dislike attorneys..You will love them for these tips. 

Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company: 

1. Do not sign  the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’  

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts,  DO  NOTput the complete  account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the  last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to it. 

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never  have your  SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it. 

4. Place the contentsof your wallet on aphotocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.  
I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.. 

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.  
But here’s some critical information to limit the damage  in case this happens to you or someone you know: 

5. We have been told we should  cancel our  credit cardsimmediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. 

6..  File a  police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). 

But here’s what is perhaps  most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)  
7. Call  the  3 national credit reporting organizations  immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number.. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.  

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.. 

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves’ purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.. 

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen: 

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285  

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742 

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):  
1-800-269-0271 

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything. 

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

That’s the info I received, and not from a particularly reliable source (that is, someone who has been busted by Snopes.com on a regular basis!), so take it for what it’s worth…

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