One of these days I’ll get around to posting the stuff I wrote in Ohio. I didn’t think I’d have culture shock out there. I can’t decide if Ohio is in the midwest or if it’s really an eastern state, but St. Louis is awfully eastern for a midwest city, and my dad was from Doylestown, Penn., so I lived with an easterner for 18 years of my life.
Look for that tomorrow, maybe. I’d have to unpack the laptop to post that material and I really don’t feel like doing that. I’ve had a fairly productive day, cleaning the place up a bit and politicking and reading Exodus, and I’m going to conveniently remember that Sabbath runs from sunup to sundown, and the sun is down (never mind that the Sabbath takes place on Saturday–this is my convenient re-interpretation, thank you) so I’ve got my excuse to be lazy, which means kick back with a cup of decaf green tea and let the stream of consciousness flow.

Politicking. Yes, politicking. I found myself in the distressing position this week of being a moderate. I’ve always been an outspoken conservative/libertarian (whichever stance will offend the most people is the one I generally took in print in college), except on religious matters, where I’ve always found a way to be a flaming liberal. When I ditched the liberal theology, I gravitated towards modern practices, which put me right back in the liberal camp.

I find myself caught between two very strong personalities, one that wants radical change yesterday, and the other who finds the status quo very comfortable. That in itself makes me uncomfortable, because our comfort level isn’t very high on God’s priority list. And the mission statement of our church is Reaching people for Christ, equipping people in Christ. When I look around at all the GenXers in our congregation who could be reached more effectively, the status quo makes me very uncomfortable. Ministry starts to go downhill fast when the focus shifts to numbers, but I can think of a dozen faces we could help equip more effectively.

I’d much rather equip one person effectively over the course of a year than 12 in a so-so fashion, but with the status quo, I’m questioning whether we can equip one more person effectively. By the same token, alienating 20 people in order to satisfy one person and potentially gain new people is a net loss, even if you eventually gain more than you lose. You don’t just turn someone’s world upside down for no reason.

Hence, I’m suddenly a moderate.

I don’t like being a moderate on much, so I’m going to go find something I can take an extreme position on.

Shaving. That’ll do it. Unix and VMS master Charlie was talking about razors on his page. I can take a strong position on shaving. Become a Nazarite and don’t do it. Life is much simpler afterward. It takes less time to get ready in the morning, and you end up looking like Richard Stallman so no one will come near you, which means you have fewer social problems, thus making your life even simpler.

Except these days, there’s e-mail, so people can talk to you without having a clue what you look like. And I like being able to walk up to girls without them shrieking something about the ghost of John the Baptist and running away at about 60 miles per hour. But if you get your jollies by trying to prove the Cheetah isn’t the fastest land mammal, I think I just told you how.

But I digress, as usual.

I was having a conversation about a year and a half ago with a good friend and mentor, and I told him about an incident I found myself in. I was having lunch with an old friend, female, in Kansas City, and I found I’d forgotten my razor. So, before I went to see her, I went out and bought a drag razor and my sister showed me how to use it. I’d never shaved with a blade in my life. (She was worth impressing. But don’t get any ideas, because she’s married now.)

“Once you go to a drag, you never go back,” my friend said.

Oh, I went back alright. The drag gets a whole lot closer, but even with a really high-quality one, I can still cut myself occasionally. Once I learned the secrets, I never cut myself with an electric. And an electric is so much faster, because you don’t have to bother with shaving cream and filling the sink with water, and you (usually) don’t have as big of a mess to clean up afterwards. There are two tricks with electric razors. OK, three.

1. Brand matters. A lot. My dad used to give me the electric razors he tried and didn’t like. I figured out really quickly why he didn’t like them. They were like shaving with a Sherman tank. They didn’t shave close, and I felt like I had a rash afterward. Sometimes they’d turn me beet red too, and I wasn’t even mad or embarrassed. My dad would never let me try his Braun. So one day I snuck in after he’d left for work and I tried it. Good stuff.

So if you don’t like your electric, try another brand. I’ll never use anything but a Braun. If a Braun doesn’t work for you, your face might be better suited for a Remington or a Norelco. They must work for some people, seeing as someone buys them.

2. Use pre-shave. The most common brand is called Lectric Shave, but there are others. Rub your face down with it a couple of minutes before you shave. It can make a big difference. With pre-shave, my 3-stage Braun gets just about as close as a blade.

3. Clean your razor! Your razor is not a gateway to a netherworld where your whiskers disappear to. If your razor just isn’t getting very close, pop the top off it and empty it out. It’ll work better afterward. And you’ll have a mess to clean up, like you would if you used a blade.