The 20/80 Rule Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

Another year I was not chosen to be the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade. Let’s see. How many years in a row, now? Recent Rose Parade Grand Marshals:

2010—Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III
2011—Paula Deen
2012—J. R. Martinez
2013—Jane Goodall
2014—Vin Scully
2015—Louis Zamperini

Okay. So they may have noteworthy accomplishments. I heard that one of my least favorite female comedians was the Grand Marshal in a parade. (Not Rose Parade.) Apparently I wasn’t the only one who wondered how she was selected. The researcher found that publicity agents and managers shop their clients to committees looking for a face.

Want to speak at an event? Send your publicity agent, career manager to talk to the person who makes the choice. Or, you could send a letter with bio, photo and sample of your work. That is how it works. Most people do not know you exist until you tell them. They are not against you or think you have ugly hair. They just don’t know until you show/tell them that you can add value to their revenue flow, expansion of knowledge or life enrichment. Learn what their procedure is. Where is the entrance door for people applying to be Grand Marshal? Looking at the recent Rose Parade selections, my guess is that book publishers or film producers or publicity departments had some influence.

It is just the way it works.

I am a freelance and self-publishing writer. A writer researches, writes, edits and distributes. Marketing is required of a writer even when the publisher is Simon & Schuster. An author said on a morning podcast about 20% of a writer’s work life is writing. The 80% is promotion and distribution.
The first question book publishers will ask you is about your platform—how many people on your mailing list? A concert promoter asks: “Can you put meat in the seats?” A record company will ask, “How many can you sell? Will touring produce buzz about our project? Do you have drawing power, name recognition, appeal?” It is just the way it works.

This is the way it works for a blogger and/or book writer: Permission is number one and then Content.

Permission. You give us permission to tell you when we have posted a fresh blog. We need your email address. I want to establish a relationship with you so when I have a fresh blog post or a new book you will want to know it is available. If I abuse the privilege of knowing your email address, you will and should withdraw your permission.

Content. You give permission to those who offer you something of value. If you belong to the tribe, you want to know what other tribe members are doing and what can help you. My personal content is wrapped around…
Embrace, Encourage, Equip, Empower.

Sometimes I wander down a rabbit trail—hopefully in an entertaining way, but when I talk about such things as political races it is to bring my point of view to empower you to make a more informed decision or to solidify your previously held opinion.

My new book “Depot—On Track: heritage, destiny, legacy” is now available. The book has been approved for marketing to the other distributors. Remember to select what format your device requires or if you wish to read it on the computer screen.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/612978

If you have a coupon, use it when you check out. Thanks.

Dean
bentonministries.com

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Tiptoe Power Monday, Dec 14 2015 

One of my family’s favorite stories is about a two-year old named Robert who went on vacation to the Carolina coast with his grandparents. The little boy and his grandfather walked on the beach each afternoon and then took a nap. Before the nap, his Gran would put him in the tub to get rid of any stray sand.

Their hotel had a high bathtub that stood on legs. As water filled the tub, Grandmother Peg put all of Robert’s favorite bath toys into tub.

“Before she put him in the …water, Robert was leaning over the side of the tub playing with the rubber duckie and all the toys. “Gran,” he said, ‘see my tiptoes. I’m standing on ‘em.’
“What makes little boys stand on their tiptoes? It’s just something they do. It is as if God had a meeting with all the little boys and gave them special instructions.
“Little boys have a secret.” (“See You at the house,” Bob Benson, Generoux 1986).

Christmas is not good for some of us. We’ve forgotten the secret—we don’t dare stand on our tiptoes. We have lost the ability to anticipate good. Our anticipator has been broken or bent. You can’t experience Christmas without a healthy anticipator.
Jesus, we want to stand on tiptoes.

D. Dean Benton
writer, wonderer. Adept at pondering & meandering

bentonministries.com
Twitter–@DeanBenton
email–benfammin@mchsi.com
Facebook–facebook.com/dean.benton3

How Can I Miss Sweat? Thursday, Oct 15 2015 

In the folklore of our family is a story of Three on a Hankie.

I have to be careful what I say at weddings. I don’t always tell the “best” story because my emotions can affect the bride and groom. I lost it at one wedding, after telling the” best” one. I pulled out my handkerchief to wipe my eyes and then my nose. The groom began to cry. We were not sobbing, just tears filling our eyes and nose running. He asked to borrow my hankie—which tells you how serious this was. Then the bride, who had been wiping tears with the sleeve of her beautiful dress, grabbed the hankie out of my hand. She had politely asked and because the thought of her using my soggy hankie I told her no. She grabbed it anyway. Could have run a quart full of something out.

We refer to that story when the subject of weddings comes up as it did as we prepared for a recent wedding. For 25 plus years, I have carried 3-4 handkerchiefs in my wedding suit in the event the crying begins.

I was ready at this weekend wedding. A hankie for me and three spares in case someone started to cry. The bride knows the story. The groom wasn’t scared or overly nervous—he wasn’t going to pass out—it was hot where he was so he was sweating. During a lull in the ceremony, the bride asked if I had a hankie. She smiled. There were no tears. I thought she was talking to siphon tension, so I smiled back because I knew she was referring to the story. NO! She was asking for her sweating sweetheart. The best man asked the guy next to him for a tissue or something for the groom. I was concerned and distracted by the sweating groom—I was not oblivious to what was happening. Not once, however, did I connect his need to the solution which was in three of my suit coat pockets.

Had there been one tear I would have whipped out one or more white, ironed handkerchiefs. I was ready, loaded and tuned in for tears, but not for sweat.

I cannot apologize adequately. I replayed the situation dozens of times trying to figure out what it would have taken for me to “get it.” To catch on. I’m not only apologizing profusely, I’m wondering how many other things I’m missing. What need is in front of me that I can take care of, but I’m preoccupied, self-absorbed or focused on one thing when I could be looking at the whole picture.

Had the bride not smiled I might have connected to the solution in my pockets.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

©2015 D. Dean Benton   http://www.bentonministries.com/

Writer, Wonderer, Misser of important details.

Shades of Decency Wednesday, Feb 11 2015 

One of my FB friends asked, “I wonder how many dads teach their kids how to correctly polish their shoes.” My immediate question: how many kids wear shoes that can be polished? My friend’s dad did! There was a reason to do so. My friend is a stage person, goes to church regularly and feels a tie and well-shined pair of shoes are good for business. Having said that, he would spit shine his shoes just on principle—it is the right thing to do.

The right thing to do. According to whom? America has lost a common measure of the “right thing.” We’re going to get to watch a former Olympian transition from a man into a woman during prime time—it is a scheduled “reality” show. Is he doing the right thing? Is watching him make the transition the right thing to do? Reality?

I like bare flesh as much as anyone with a half-a-tank of testosterone, but the current cover of Sports Illustrated is a measurable amount of too far. The woman is a beauty, for sure, but I sure don’t want to have to explain that bikini tan line to anyone. The cover appeared on a news program to the involuntary gasp of a reporter. The next day the network had photo-shopped a cover for part of the cover. (She was on Fox this morning with the original photo—no photoshop—and a video of the photo shoot running in the background. The program hosts didn’t appear to be uncomfortable.) Who decided that photo was the right thing?

When an acquaintance told me they (bad grammar hides gender) had read “50 Shades of Gray” and gave it a positive nod, I wondered a whole list of things. Most of which began with, “What the hell has happened to decency?” The movie will be released Valentine’s Day weekend—to be timely. On Valentine’s Day weekend? Do the ladies giving thumbs up for the movie know what sadomasochistic means? Are they familiar with what happens in the act of bondage? And that trips their trigger?

I’m not suggesting it should not be marketed—book or movie. I’m wondering how it gets middle of the road billing. When did pain and tying people up become mainstream? And why? Is this culture missing something in its diet?

I found a dusty word we don’t use much: modesty. I was not fantasizing. Promise. I thought about how the sense of propriety would change if that beautiful young lady was standing in our living room in the same bikini and the same pose instead of on TV. Awkward! Does having her removed by 6 million copies of the picture, or seeing her through a TV screen make the visual more acceptable?

Disclaimer: I am not turned on by the photo, nor am I repulsed. She is a pretty woman with a knockout body. But, do I have a right to see that much of it? The purpose of showing me is what?

(And a lady who gave birth to a fourteen pound baby last week and she didn’t know she was pregnant! Explain that to me—I don’t need graphs or pictures. How does that happen—didn’t the lady notice something was different? This is a whole different topic—but it asks, Is anyone paying attention?)

TV programs have moved from intriguing characters and interesting plots to on-screen abuse, cruelty and torture. I’m not over-stating. Anytime a cordless drill is used on someone, it may be judged cruel and torture. The classification of adventure drama now describes vivid murder, execution and gore splattered on the mirror and wall.

Obviously, these TV producers have found a large enough market to make it profitable. If the watchers are that fascinated with that level of violence, then they need to sign up to fight the non-play acting brutality going on in North Africa and the Middle East.

Jessie DuPlantis tells about a church that does not allow women to wear sleeveless garb to church. Jessie jokes, “If an armpit turns you on, you got a demon!”

No one has asked me to be the clothes cop. No one gave me permission to monitor your viewing habits. I sure don’t want the job. Someone needs to be paying attention. The purpose of this expenditure of words is to ask you who sets the decency standard for you? How is that gauge calibrated?

I like a paragraph from my book, The Depot. Virginia Holloway lives next door to the parsonage and sunbathes in her bikini on her front lawn. The pastor’s wife—Virginia’s friend—says,

“I’m astonished at her. I would say she should be arrested for indecent exposure, but I couldn’t find a jury in this town that would agree it is indecent.”

What, who decides, for you, what the right thing to do is?

© D. Dean Benton – http://www.bentonministriesinc.com/

Trolling for Ideas Tuesday, Jan 20 2015 

Have you followed the story of the former NFL player Rob Konrad who fell off his 36 foot fishing boat at night and then swam 9 miles to the Florida shore? Newsweek is not sure. Others have built a case for its possibility, if not probability. A Washington Post writer describes it as “winning the lottery.” Everything had to work just right.

Hypothermia, jelly fish bites and a circling shark do not describe, “Just right.” The swimmer without life jacket had body mass and subcutaneous body fat. A primary mental survival factor is that he did not surrender to “learned helplessness.” He didn’t give up. He kept thinking, “I’m gonna make it.”

To thrive, not just survive, in 2015 will demand street level Faith, Hope, Love. That’s my hypothesis from 1 Corinthians 13.

I was set back on my heels by publisher Steven Strang’s headline :

Take My Challenge: Set Some Huge Faith Goals in 2015

If I set “huge-er” goals in 15 than I did in 14, I will have to believe for $10 million instead of $4M and you will be among the first to receive my fund raising letter. (OSE—Okay, Slight Exaggeration.)

The “I’m gonna make it” mindset is a faith thing. Repeating myself: the first big faith item is actionable faith that says, “I am worthy” and “I deserve it.” You can’t have faith in God’s plan if the “plan” begins with an assumption that you have disqualified yourself, you are defective or irreparably flawed. That is part of “learned helplessness” negative faith.

All you need is one idea. I believe that one captivating, unique idea that catapults us into pursuit and action is all we need. I must have read it some place—the idea of an idea farm—a place where ideas grow from seeds planted, nurtured and cultivated. Faith pushes us to take steps to find that farm.

I never thought Newt Gingrich was electable as president, but I like to hear him talk. I’ve read some of his writing. One of his work companions said Newt had and shared 10,000 ideas by noon. Many of them were discarded for one reason or another, but he was/is an idea dispenser. He is someone to hang around with a note pad in hand.

John Maxwell has a thinking chair. Nothing else happens there. It is reserved for idea foraging and trolling.

Learned helplessness vs. searching for and finding the idea farm. The huge faith goals begin with a question that grows into an idea. The 2015 faith challenge is to find accessible people who plant, nurture, cultivate and talk about faith-based ideas.

Got an idea?

© D. Dean Benton   Writer. Wonderer. Idea troll—not the kind who lives under a bridge, but like the one who rides slowly in a boat seeing what can be snagged.

The Feel of Christmas Tuesday, Dec 16 2014 

What do you feel at holiday time? I’m guessing the question therapists most ask is, “How long does it take for you to recover from the time with your family at Christmas?” I enjoyed a talk the other day with a woman who has 3-4 step-mothers. (She knows exactly. I just don’t remember.) She has a lot of Christmas gatherings. I didn’t ask her the therapist question. When you add one person to the mix, the possibility of negative feelings rises exponentially.

So back to the question—feelings? Joy to the…? Dread? Exhaustion to the bone? Anticipation? I’ll be so glad when this is over! No! Not again this year! Depression? Loneliness?

Do you know that more people die from prescription drug OD than from heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine drug use combined? Dr. Brené Brown says, “We’re desperate to feel less or more of something—to make something go away or to have more of something else.”

In case you don’t know Ms. Brown, she does research on shame and vulnerability. She is a good writer and a terrific speaker. Her latest book (Daring Greatly, ©2012) talks about “numbing” so we don’t feel shame (I am not enough….), anxiety and disconnection.

She says before she started the current research her major question was, “What’s the quickest way to make these feelings go away?” Now: “What are these feelings and where did they come from?”

We use many of the same items for pleasure as we do for numbing. Food, alcohol, time on the computer. Ms. Brown says people often ask, “Where is the line between pleasure or comfort and numbing.” Saying that another way, “When does food or work or time on Facebook cease to be pleasure or comfort and become the way we numb our feelings?” How do we find out?

  • Self-examination and reflection
  • Talk to family, close friends or a helping professional.  

It is more difficult to do those two things than whatever we use to numb the feelings. Brené Brown’s book (8 chapters) needs to be read and talked about in a group of 4-8 people. That is a tough assignment! I keep suggesting such things because I want to be free and I want people to walk out of bondage. Walking through life numb is not exactly what Jesus had in mind.

I don’t imagine many people in those days surrounding Jesus’ birth were asking feelings questions. The Gospel writers told us the major participant’s feelings were chaotic. The shepherds were thrilled and scared. Mary didn’t have to try to read her hormones, there was so much going on that she was thrown into a “ponder.” What does this mean?” I doubt Joseph went to the pub to run past his buddies the words of the angel, Mary or anyone. Don’t you suspect he wondered if he had been sniffing too much wood glue?“

Dr. Brown says anti-numbness begins with “The Care and Feeding of our spirits. She uses the word spirit in the broadest sense. A soul check asks: Are my choices comforting and nourishing my spirit, or are they temporary reprieves from vulnerability and difficult emotions ultimately diminishing my spirit? Are my choices leading to my Wholeheartedness, or do they leave me feeling empty and searching?”

After our guests left the house last evening, I wondered if they felt their spirits cared for, nurtured and fed. The largest question in all this that we can impact is, What do I want to feel this holiday? Own them–they are your feelings and be intentional. It isn’t Santa who sneaks in and hijacks your feelings. Is what I’m feeling good for the care and nurture of my soul?

D. Dean Benton    http://www.bentonministries.com

 Writer, Wonderer, Provoker, Feeler

Dear Boys and Girls and all Seekers Thursday, Oct 16 2014 

Dear Fellow Penguins

Do you ever pull back the drapes in the morning to see just how crazy the world has become? I’ve gotten into the habit of awakening at 3:00 to 3:30 to turn on the news just to see what has happened while I was asleep. I don’t pretend to have many answers, but I’m concerned about my growing pile of questions.

I keep thinking someone needs to plead, “No one strike a match. This powder keg could go up….” I have generally felt that people smarter than me were making the decisions—people who had more information. A secret memo. A report from the CIA or Navy Seals.

What rational information led to the decision to refrain from calling boys and girls by those words? Purple penguins is better? Do the deciders know the role distinctions of penguins? I am absolutely committed to justice for all regardless of preferences, but refusal to acknowledge distinctions—I was not diminished by being referred to as a boy. I don’t think! Perhaps you would know more about that than me. However, to be called a penguin in a serious tone might be damaging.

I’m not going to add any light to this crazy discussion. It feels like our culture has slipped off the tracks—our world has slipped off the axis. I keep asking, “Whose idea was that?”

Three hours before dawn yesterday, I was loading up after our weekend getting ready to drive home. I heard what sounded like shotgun blast one block over. My immediate response was, “Someone just died.” A few minutes later, the sirens were headed our direction. My day was filled with a question I have no way of knowing: What part of life had slipped off the rail for whom that a shotgun seemed to be the only solution?

I was sensitized. I had awakened from a dream in which I was talking to a friend to reconsider ending her life.

A friend attends AA meeting as a participant and volunteer. It is a concern for him that so many addicts blame God for their addictions and dismiss Him as a healing, saving factor. A component of the Millennial Generation is that “God is not even on my radar. I’m not mad at him or blame him, he just doesn’t factor into my life.” The meeting my friend attends is using the book The Shack as a stimulant to deal with their perception of God. I asked him why he believes that God wants him to be involved in those meetings.

“I think he wants me to love the individuals involved, to be available as a gentle conduit. To show up where seeking is going on….”

I can think of nothing more engaging or stimulating than “to show up where seeking is going on.” Who knew that the person who wielded the shotgun was “seeking?” Or had given up seeking?

I’m hearing Henry Blackaby’s phrase: “Find where God is working and join Him.” Where is that in your world?  It is where people have run out of hiding places. It is where people are asking questions. Jesus gives us some clues—“…like sheep without a shepherd—knocked down, worn out, wandering about….”

Fellow penguins—no–fellow pilgrims—“Showing up where seeking is going on.”

©2014—D. Dean Benton— http://bentonministries.com/

New Wine Bottles Sunday, Aug 24 2014 

I have a friend who has been in the exploration business. His job description:

 “Analyzing…opportunities by leading a risk committee, and giving these assessments to executives to make decisions.”

 

What are we missing in our church-gathering experience that we respond to in Brandon’s description?

Ralph Neighbour says he could have saved himself twenty years of frustration and pain if he had only listened to Jesus: “You cannot put new wine in old wineskins.” What do the new wineskins in your neighborhood look like? Much of the Kingdom work going on in Singapore and Manila come out of the new wineskins built by Neighbour’s ministries.  

 

Can you name or describe what you long for when you read Brandon’s blog? Can it happen in one location with one group of people?  This is the exploration phase of sewing new wine skins.

 New wine. New wineskins.

Need-opportunity-vision-access-commitment-resources

 And you say?

Dean

Getting the brand right Tuesday, Jun 24 2014 

Watching the news about Iraq this morning pushed me into a different “place.” The terrorists in Iraq are set on world domination. Probably not since Hitler have we faced this. I looked at the people in the stores we visited today and wondered how many and which ones were feeling:

  • Hopeless
  • Helpless
  • Empty
  • Overwhelmed—overloaded
  • Distracted—without focus or direction

Before we had emptied the coffee pot, I had described what I longed for—needed—to the only available one to listen when I’m in my pajamas. When I finished, the lady asked me a troubling question.

“When have we ever been in a church like that?”

We came close once. We have been even closer in a couple of life groups.

Let me throw some words out. Atmosphere, environment, culture, milieu. News commentator Paul Harvey used to say, “Wash your ears out with this….” Where do you go to hear a legitimate op ed alternative view that offers hope, help, filling, peace and framework without silliness and escapism?

Late evening or middle of the night TV on premium channels—I’m not talking about the XXX channels or even the extra-cost channels, just the ones that show ad-free movies—seem dominated by lots of vampires and graphic blood and guts. I suspect on any given night a person can watch 100 people get blown away—literally blown away with debris and blood splattered on the wall. I heard a solidly secular writer say on a book channel that porn is now the major source of sex education for boys and increasingly for girls. She said that brains are being rewired. That is exactly what Dr. Caroline Leaf has talked about. That is what the Christian researchers are saying. The physical brain is being changed and the body’s response is affected.

Without any grandeur ideas about changing the world, I wonder where I can go to find a different milieu that offsets the darkness and raunch? Without pushing us toward isolationism, where is that place? I think I’m talking about biblical holiness, purity, sanctification. A place for Jesus Followers to experience at the core of our beings:

  • Encouragement
  • Edification
  • Education
  • Enrichment
  • Energizing
  • Empowering
  • Equipping
  • Embracing

I’m describing a gathering—a community where just being together produces those eight in us. Maybe not all at once, but over time, each of them. Being with those fellow Followers pulls us toward a counter-culture life-style and an inner life of light and salt rather than dirty, dimness, darkness and deterioration. The redemptive and transferable power of E8 .

There is a feel that the world is about to explode or implode. A palpable feel in the air I do not remember ever feeling in my lifetime. There is craziness everywhere. Now that we have same-sex marriage and homosexuality (3%-6% of the population) as the primary model, the news is now talking about marriage moving toward multiples which used to be called polygamy.

Genocide and mass murder in how many countries? Executions in Iraq. The spirit of death and murder and exploitation has been loosed upon the earth. One need only note the political activities in Washington D.C. to capture scenes of craziness and dumb thinking where something smelling like treason is in the air.

One of the biographers of Theodore Roosevelt described his son Kermit suffering with malaria from childhood. That was before the swamps (upon which Washington was built) were drained, she notes. I’m wondering if the “swamps” need to be drained again. At a time when the Internet is called a “sewer” and the young adults who attend(ed) our church talk on Facebook with potty mouths as if there are no consequences of filthy language or behavior.

Isaiah 5:20 says

“Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

What I am wanting may be way beyond possible in this culture that loves independence and insists on writing its own rules of right and wrong. A society that demands the right without any barriers and speed bumps to do the very things that caused God’s judgment.

I want and need a tribe that will embrace and welcome me, and stimulate me to live a holy life. I believe such a group produces the atmosphere where healing happens just because the group is gathered in Jesus’ Name. “Where two or three are gathering in my Name, I will be there” (Matthew 18:20).

It is the community I’ve always wanted—but especially need, now. Bruce Larson defined such a community as a “fellowship of riskers, healers, and alternative builders.”

In my computer archives is an email from our daughter dated 2008. I didn’t go looking for it. But there it was waiting for me this morning:

       “I had an interesting thing happen after we got home from school, and I am not sure all that I am supposed to do in response. We had been home for a while and Hannah came in the house and said, “There’s a letter on our porch that isn’t for us.” I was thinking maybe something delivered to the wrong address, but she brought in a hand written letter, damp with the mist of the day, both sides of a legal pad page, dated 6-26-07. I read the first paragraph, trying to find out if I knew who it belonged to so that I could return it. There was nothing to indicate who it was from. I felt funny reading it…it was a love letter from an obviously young woman to the father of her children. After reading the first few sentences I set it on the table, not sure if I should toss it, fold it and keep it, read it or not. After supper I felt I should read it. She talked about how much she missed him and was looking forward to seeing him in 12 days.

The second paragraph says, “Church is the only thing, besides seeing you, that I look forward to. That’s the only thing that gets us out of the (cell) block. I just talked to our babies. I almost cried when I heard their voices. (…) told me you took them to the park and picked flowers for ‘Mommy.’ You are such a good Daddy. She told me her tooth is loose. My baby girl is getting so big!  (…) told me that she was crying because she misses her mommy. That just breaks my heart. I miss my family. I swear to you I will be a better mother as well as wife. And a good Christian. At least I am going to give it my best shot. I need to change. We both do. I made a promise to God that I will find a church that I like and start attending service every week. It would be good for the girls to start going again. I want you to go with us. It will do us both good to get to know Jesus. When I get out I decided that not only am I going to church but I am going to N.A. Hopefully if I do get time in …County I can get time out on weekends.”

She talks a little about her felony record, and her plans to apply for a job in a certain place. The letter continues to the next page, but I only have the first two. It was a very windy day, but it seems very odd that it landed on our porch, since the wind was blowing in a direction that should have never allowed it to go the direction it had to to reach the porch. It doesn’t feel like coincidence. Obviously, I have prayed for them, and I will put the letter in my notebook that sits next to the Prayer chair upstairs.”

“…very odd that it landed on our porch….” Oh! I think not!  Not when your brand is E8   

A note on my desk from some unknown place—probably from Seth Godin:

  • What is your passion?
  • Who shares your passion?
  • Who will benefit from your passion?
  • How will you communicate your passion?

 ©2014 D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

 

Altar Call Song Tuesday, May 27 2014 

With Carrie Fisher coming back to the big screen to reprise Princess Leia, it seemed timely that we watched the movie “Postcards from the Edge,” which is a semi-autobiographical story by Miss Fisher. The story may be about her relationship with her mother Debbie Reynolds. As I remember, Debbie Reynold’s mother was a Pentecostal preacher who was heavy-handed in her teaching the rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts and not much grace.

Carrie Fisher writes about her drug addictions, her mother’s alcoholism and the attempt to compete with mother’s stardom and self-absorption. The movie and book are crammed with great lines—a writer’s dream. The daughter asks her mother, “Do you always speak in bumper stickers?” Somewhere she says, “Having a wonderful time. Wish I were here.”

At the close of the movie, the Carrie Fisher part played by Meryl Streep, sings “Checkin out of this Heartbreak Hotel.” The words are clever, but it is the orchestration that captures me. The track does not need the words to tell a story of self-discovery, offered freedom, and the choice to leave behind the dark life for something redemptive.

I didn’t know Meryl Streep could sing like that! I have played this tune more times than my wife wants to hear it. If I were doing concerts, this would become my altar call song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc-hMePuYSY

 D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House—livin’ the I’m Possible Dream

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