Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trivial Pursuit

by Dan Jones

Okay, okay, I know I’ve been writing some pretty serious blogs lately, but it’s really all your fault.

Yes, I mean you.

That’s right, you.

Right there, sitting in your chair staring at a bunch of coalescing electrons on a screen.

See, what you don’t know about this blog is that Facebook is watching you—and it’s tattling to me.

No, Facebook doesn’t tell me that Bubba Jo Bob Smith read this blog at 5:37 p.m. on Saturday night, but it does tell me that 508 people were reached when I wrote “War is Not Hell” whereas only 101 people were reached when I wrote about “Beauty.”

It also tells me how many clicks on the link a particular post had, how many “shares” and (of course) how many “likes.”

Please don’t be offended. I greatly appreciate your readership. When I first started doing this, reaching 40 people was kind of a big deal. So, thank you!

So, my keen powers of observation being what they are, you might expect that I would continue to find more and more controversial world events to write about.

And there is certainly no shortage of such events to write about. In fact, I have caught myself railing on and on in obscure little corners of the internet, occasionally even resorting to that bane of the “Join the Conversation” section, the ALL CAPS SHOUTING rant.  (I really wouldn’t use all caps if they would just let me use italics, or bold, or underline. Well, I’d try not to... Maybe. )

Which is why, this week, I have pledged to take a break from pontificating on the evils of this world and, instead, regale you with a tale of one of my very favorite days of the year: The Kinship Christian Radio Staff Christmas Party.

It’s a wonderful event for staff members of the ministry and their spouses. (Since “blog writer” is an unpaid position, I am technically only allowed to attend as a “spouse”—which is yet another incentive to remain on good terms with my lovely wife.)

There are usually about 40 people in attendance and the fellowship is glorious.  There’s kind of a “Holy Spirit glow” to the evening as I am allowed to rub elbows with people of like mind, mission, and spirit. These are people I admire for reaching so many others with the Word and the Spirit.

Some of them are even kind of fun to be around. 

And, there are games.

Now, I will confess to having kind of a bit of a competitive spirit when it comes to games. (“Kind of” as in “borderline obsessive.”) And, for some reason, the Lord has seen fit to bestow on me a brain that stores completely useless trivia like Joseph stored grain during the seven years of plenty prior to the seven years of famine in India.  Egypt, I meant Egypt.

This year, Announcer Allen Jones (no relation, but I’d adopt him as a cousin if he asked) created and emceed a trivia contest where we were asked Christmas-related questions. We divided up into teams of six people each to face off in this epic battle.

The team I was on fought valiantly, correctly answering that Jesus was two years old when the wise men visited, that “Silent Night” was originally written in German for the guitar, that egg nog was invented in England, and that the first stop-action Christmas television special was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  

Unfortunately, we missed the bonus point on that particular question as to when it was released. This was my fault as I guessed 1967. Another team correctly answered that the film came out in 1964. (Had I been asked the name of the prospector or the nickname of the Abominable Snowman, I was ready with “Yukon Cornelius” and “Bumble.” But, alas.)

Our team amassed 14 points out of a possible 22, only to find that the competition had 15—beating us by the one point they received for “1964.”

I was secretly disappointed that Mr. Jones had not asked, “What is the only Christmas carol to mention the gift of meat?” (Ten bonus points if you can correctly answer this.) And then the other team graciously agreed to a final, winner-take-all, tie-breaker question even though they had won fair and square.

The question was: How many candy canes are produced in the United States each year?

My mind raced. I know there are about 300 million people in the United States. If each of them bought… how many? What’s the average number of candy canes bought by each person?  I didn’t know.

In the end, we settled on an answer of three billion.

The other team answered five million.

Allen announced that the correct answer was 1.76 billion. (Had I remembered that candy canes are commonly packaged six to a box, and multiplied that by 300 million, I would have come up with an eerily-accurate estimate of 1.8 billion.)

This was followed by a lengthy debate as to which answer was closer. (We had missed it by 1.24 billion. They were off by 1.755 billion.)

Nonetheless, as the math debate was going on and not wanting any bitter root to grow up amongst us, I stood up and announced (completely without the knowledge or the permission of my teammates) that our team graciously conceded the contest to the team which had fairly won in the first place.

Shortly thereafter, our team members were given presents for winning the game.  I asked, “How could this be? We conceded. They won.”

I was told the other team wanted us to have them.

And that, dear readers, is the definition of grace.

They “get it.” They know it’s not about winning and losing. They know it’s about giving.

I am humbled and thankful for them.

And that is why it is such a joy to be around the people who bring you the gift of Christian radio in word and song each and every day.

God bless them, every one.

Today’s Praise

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)

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