Please note: I just finished a multi hour Arabic tutoring session (had a great time, I have a great tutor!) and I want to get this posted but IE simply refuses to cooperate. So, the following works fine in FireFox; looks OK in Opera, and if you use IE, well, “Your condemnation is just!” 🙂
   We had a lot of folks taking pictures during the cruise and debate in Seattle. While I have been addressing important theological and historical issues since then, I haven’t posted any pictures! That helps to re-inforce the “White isn’t human, he’s an unfeeling machine” thing, so I thought it would be good to put that rumor to bed.
   First, here I am wondering who is going to turn the lights down…again. See, back in 2005, redgoatee, a channel semi-regular (and very early morning texter) leaned back against the back wall and…turned off the lights. We have mercilessly ribbed him about that since then. Well, this last trip, three different people did the very same thing! So red is now only accountable for 1/4 of the incidents (they really need to do something about those light switches!).

   Next, of course, Shabir Ally, likewise from the debate. I forgot to ask Shabir how many debates he has done now. I would be interested in knowing. Given that he did some “dialogues” with Tony Costa the week after our debate in Seattle, I would imagine he has done many, many more than I have. Again, I am appreciative that he was willing to fly all the way to Seattle for the debate. Surely, those familiar with some of the less, shall we say, cordial Islamic apologists can be thankful for Shabir’s reserve. We disagree strongly, but have proven now in two debates that such disagreement can be handled in such a fashion that gives credibility to our claims to follow the admonition to show respect for our fellow men.

   There were, thankfully, at least a few Muslims who made it to the debate despite the weather. After the debate I had a chance to chat with a few, but our conversation was mainly focused upon how to get more Muslims at debates in the future! I appreciated that they, too, wanted to have more participation from their community in such encounters. Not a single harsh word was spoken all evening as far as I know, and I am pretty certain that Shabir likewise did not get “ambushed” by anyone after the debate. Things truly went well along those lines, and I am very thankful for those who prayed that the debate would be peaceful, and useful, to all.

   Now here are some channel rats. Well, MarieP, Brigand, and Figgy, are channel rats. Mrs. Figgy isn’t a channel rat, and we can only hope that Figglet will be a channel rat…someday! This was taken on the front of the Mercury, which happens to be the location of one of my greatest cruise experiences (amazingly, I did not even go up there this trip!). That is where, back in 2002 as I recall, I watched the Northern Lights…all alone…no one else out there…in the silence of the waters of Alaska. It was awesome. Of course, maybe someone else did come up there, but when they heard that guy laying on the deck staring up at the sky singing “How Great Thou Art!” they went…elsewhere, quickly. But I will never forget that experience.

   Now, one of our sessions went right up to the time of the formal night, so we had to wear our formal wear to the class as there wasn’t time to change. Some folks don’t like the idea of a formal night, but to be honest, they have really grown on me over the years. Formal wear is something our modern culture has begun to lose touch with. But you know what? Folks look downright good when they dress up! The ladies look gorgeous, and even some of the men clean up real nicely! So, we had a pretty formal group for class that afternoon. So here I am with Steve, aka, Bart, another channel rat, but from Canada (see, we are an equal opportunity chat channel, right Flamey?). He was making fun of my kilt, so…I’m teaching him a lesson in cross-cultural behavior…or is it just a right cross? Hard to tell. We are out on the deck cooling off, because for some reason we couldn’t get the ship to get the temperature down in the room where I was teaching. So we would go out and enjoy the crisp cool air for a while before heading back to our studies. For those wondering, that is not my clan tartan. That is the Spirit of Scotland tartan. I got it so that my dear wife would have an easier time matching me on formal nights! I also think it is a gorgeous tartan. The wire, by the way, is for my microphone. It is not an odd American addition to a kilt!

   Speaking of my dear wife, she too was on the cruise. And yes, for those like Algo who read all past blog entries, she still has her pink and purple polka-dotted luggage. ( Sigh ) We like to have formal pictures taken on the ships. I doubt we would have had more than a single sitting at a formal studio over the past ten years, but since there are photographers all over the ship on formal nights, we have a real nice set of formal pictures (for less than you would pay at photo studios, I might add). Thankfully, our kids were able to come along back when they were younger, so we got some great family portraits. One of the best was taken on the Mercury while in heavy seas. We were all smiling naturally because we were holding on for dear life and laughing about it! They are in school or working or both now, so those days have passed, sadly. Of course, I married my wife when she was two, which explains why she looks so much younger than I do! But she puts up with me and she surely makes our formal pictures look a lot better! Of course, the only problem with most of the formal pictures is they do not show her shoes, and my wife loves shoes. I mean, I can tell some shoe stories if you would like…but I better stop there before I get in trouble.

   Now for the first time I thought it might be a good idea to get a picture of the entire staff of Alpha and Omega Ministries. Well, that wasn’t too hard to do! I don’t think Rich and I had ever had a formal portrait taken before, so this may well be a first! Yes, the look on his face does say, “Such a shame he’s wearing that kilt, but oh well, I’ve had to get used to a lot of oddities over the past twenty years.” Yes, it’s been over twenty years. One of us has the patience of Job! Well, maybe we both do. We aren’t quite ready to sit on the front porch in rockers yet discussing all our apologetic adventures…but when we get there, we will surely have a lot of stories to go over! Someday we will have to take some DL time to talk about how we ended up in this grand adventure together. For now, let me just say, if it were not for Rich Pierce, there would be no A&O, period, end of discussion.

   Now, as I’ve noted, our littlest cruiser this trip around was little Ava, aka, Figglet. Prior to the cruise one of Figgy’s greatest goals was to get a pic of me with Figglet, and, well, that really was not difficult to do. We actually took a few, but this one turned into the “Mad Scientist About to Mutate Baby” picture. Of course, you know I was just making one of those faces you make when you talk to little kids…but I’m sure some fine folks out there like DA will warp the picture and turn it into some monstrosity. “Their condemnation is just.” I wonder what little Figglet will say someday when she looks back at these pictures. “Dad, you let that weirdo hold me?”
   We had a group picture taken on formal night as well, but I’ll save that one for a little later! Once again, many thanks to all who made the cruise, conference, and debate such a blessed time. It was great to share it with you all!

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