Tuesday, May 16, 2006

You and Your Key Chain

What does your key chain say about you? This is an exciting and empowering new dimension of social and psychological analysis, sure to revolutionalize the American psyche and all of culture... Excuse me, I lapsed into hyper-advertizing speak. This toxin is everywhere and hard to avoid. Let me begin again.

What is on your key chain? In an unfallen world, we would likely have no locks and thus no keys for them. The same goes for the New Heaven and Earth: no curse, no tears, no TVs, and no keys (except possibly in museums). But what do we lock up and why? What possessions do we prize and thus guard?

What else is on the key chain? I have little blue light that I love (for unknown reasons) and which my wife hates. There is also my trusty weapon of cultural subversion: TV-B-Gone, which I employed twice today (I was two-for-two) in a record store, zapping a "Sesamme Street" program from the 1970s. Neal Postman would have been proud. One can also find a small wooden carving in the shape of Africa, given to me by my beloved friend Tony Weedor, a native of Liberia who has been periodically returning there to set up a study center in that beleaguered country. My students, Jedd and Michelle McFatter, and my pastor, Don Sweeting, are on their way to Uganda as well. I have several friends in or from Ethiopia. So, this reminds me to pray for that great Continent. Given its people, its natural resources, and its possibilities, if Africa truly submitted to Christ, it could lead the world. Thus said Francis Schaeffer many years ago, I am told. (I'm sure that many Africans have no locks, no keys, and no key chains. Or, if they do, they do not have many of our electronic devices on them.)

So, what is on your key chain? What does it say about you and about your culture? Please let me know. I'm going to write a best-selling book about it--"Keys to Unlocking Your Chains"--and go on "Oprah" as well. There I go again.

PS: May 17, 2006: I forgot the most interesting thing on my key chain. I carry a small metal flask of annointing oil. This was suggested to me by my student and Anglican minister, Tom Hall. I sometimes ask people if they would like to be annointed with oil before I pray with them for healing. This is a biblical practice and helps us to remember God's presence. Maybe I should annoint the TV-G-Gone for greater effectiveness.


Anonymous said...

Quite true! How much more is yet revealed by an added examination of the check book and credit card account(s)? I have the same wooden carving given by the same delightful brother that reminds me to pray for some of the same precious people.

Over the years, in the interest of simplifing my life, I have tried to carry as few keys and extras on the ring as possible. I now have, two electronic car keys, one standard key to my office and a mailbox key. In addition to the wooden reminder of Africa, I've an electronic pass key for the local tennis court. No house key is needed, as the garage door opener suffices.

I need to simplify further, reducing to one car key and the Africa carving. If only I didn't need the car!

"Keys to unlocking your chains." Hmm...it certainly does sound like a book title...Hmm...a quick look on the internet seems to indicate that the title hasn't been taken yet!

Michael Russell said...

Hmm. My keychain?

Well, there's a key to my office which I'm required to lock (by law) and another for the office building, two keys to my car (Firebirds have one for the door and a different one for the ignition - I don't use the remote Viper system) which I lock about half the time, a key to my home (which is rarely locked: two 95-pound dogs ordered me to keep it open), and a small Swiss Army knife.

I'm not sure what any of that says about me, except that I may have an irrational fear of being attacked by a small Swiss Army (is there any other kind of Swiss Army?).

But I hope I make it into your book. Please?

Jeremy said...

I have a zip drive, which probably does more to keep me locked into the world of technology (which I hate) than to keep my files safe/handy. I have my grocery card because it's good fiscal stuardship, and I have a key-ring card to my public library--nothing wrong there (just think if everyone had such a card and used it).

Next comes all the keys to all of my material possessions that would get ripped off if I didn't protect them. (I'm not being sarcastic. I guess I really feel like that. It's a shame because I should really count on the Lord to protect the important stuff, and I doubt that any of my stuff is all that important.) I have my car key, the keyless entry/alarm for my car, my truck key, my house key, my grandparents' house key, my desk key, and then I have four keys to the university at which I teach. These four keys consist of a key to the adjunct offfice, a key to the classrooms in my department, a key to any other classroom on the entire campus, and a key to the padlocks that keep the classroom technology, e.g., the computers, vcr's, dvd players, etc., safe from the students. The most shocking thing about these keys (especially the last one) is that I work at a Christian--a really Christian--university. But they DO NEED the keys--a couple of years ago somebody walked off with two professional grade TV cameras (probably about $40,000 if I had to guess, if not higher).

Maybe the camera theft was a gift from God. They used to walk around during chapel, and stick those stupid things in people's faces while they were trying to worship. I said good ridance, but they've just gotten new ones.

Pastor Erik said...

I'm mildly tactically defensive. So I take a minimalistic approach to the keychain. Keys on a very simply keyring. And I never carry my keys, or anything else, in my pockets. I know, I know, I need professional help.
Right now there are 9 keys. I wish I could keep it to about 5-6 keys. I also have one of those fat black car door beepie thingies for my wife's minivan. My minivan's little fat black car door beepie thingie has long since perished.

Michael Russell said...

After ruminating a bit, it occurred to me that there are other kinds of keys and locks. Specifically, what came to mind was the little copyright symbol that appears on almost all books and a great number of blogs. It is, in effect, a lock to prevent the theft of intellectual property.

This is a bit curious to me (although I've done it myself): if everything I have is from God, who am I to claim possession? I have a stewardship, of course, but am I meant to hoard and guard that which He has entrusted to me - or created through me - or am I to share it freely with anyone and everyone? Should I regard such property as a thing to be grasped or empty myself of all such claims and regard myself as merely a servant, steward, and ambassador?

Something I've appreciated about H. Norman Wright is that he gives permission to freely copy and use any and all of his materials without limitations. It seems that he grasps the concept of stewardship a bit better than most, including me: of all the things I claim to own, my "(pseudo-) intellectual property" is dearest. Not a good thing.

Craig Fletcher said...

I have a 512MB USB drive on mine.... it makes it easy to take files to and fro!

Susan said...

I hate key chains and the only reason I have one is to keep the key to my car, to my apartment, and to my bike in one place. On the end of it is a stuffed "Tigger" from A.A. Milne's stories. This was given to me by my daughter so I am obliged.

I have a smallish bag which stores oddity and oil, guitar-pick and memento (a small pewter replica of a watering can, reminding me of the work of the Word and Spirit). To keep them on the end of a key chain only makes for a weighty and floppy mess next to the steering-wheel.

nancy said...

Like Pastor Erik I have the fat black car door beepie thingie (I love this thingie that opens the door for me when I'm juggling groceries and little tots. The only gadget that brings me more joy is the round tupperware holder spinning thingie that stacks containers and lots of matching lids - but I digress). Like Becky, and Jeremy, I have the assortment of frequent shopper cards. And like Becky I have the hook thing that allows me to attach the keys to some purses or a belt loop. And then there is the precious pic of my 6 year old son (need to add a pic of my daughter).

In summary, lots of thingies and a couple of keys.

Pilgrim in Progress said...

Doug, I am shocked. I thought you to be a one that sought simplicity in life, yet your key chain belies this belief of mine. I adjure you to employ Ockham's razor to pare away the excess. By the way, I have only two things on my ring - my Jeep key and the house key.

BJS said...

This is strange... the ONLY thing on my key ring (besides 2 keys, house and car), is a wooden carving in the shape of Africa... hmmm... Three of us in this little post on this little blog all have the same thing. Mine was given to me by a friend after she went on a trip to Kenya to do some work for da Man.

Becky -- tell Andy I love his "I'm nuts for you line." Can I steal it..?

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I guess I have to itemize keys to protect my curmudgeonly status:

1. Two house keys
2. Garage key
3. Car key
4. Key for the bike rack for locking the bike on the car
5. Office key--Denver Seminary
6. Office key--Arapahoe Community College (need to give that back)
7. Key to lock and unlock my laptop on my desk at the seminary when it is there. We have had several stolen from the (old) campus.
8. A card (not on the chain) to get into the seminary after hours.

These are all required in fallen world and especially in a big, mean-spirited city like Denver. I don't want my bike or the seminary's computer stolen. I need the other keys to secure home and office.

You will note no keys for motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or other toys. Nor do I even have an automatic device for locking and unlocking my car.

As a Christian philosopher, I hold the key to knowledge in my mind--when I can get it to work.

If I had a drum set, maybe I'd put a drum key on my key ring, but alas, I do not.

lee n. field said...

Far too many keys. And 3 subrings hung off the main ring.

Work related stuff on the main, 6 keys.

Car and bike lock on one sub ring, 3 keys.

House related keys on one sub ring, 7 keys.

Gun safe and gun lock keys, and one thing the pretends to be a key, on the third ring, 5 keys.

Two keys in there I'm not sure what they're for, and one I haven't seen the lock for for years.

Typical American.

I need to get me on of them TV-Be-Gone things.

Pilgrim in Progress said...

"Lee", nice touch. While the plethora of keys you tote amazes me, I am quite taken by your moniker. Truly a clever connection between keys for the gun safe and "Lee N Field." At least I assume that this truly is a clever connection and not really your given name! Forget the TV be gone, just pull out one of them Enfields, and permanently decomission every tube you see!

lee n. field said...

It is a pseudonym (as I assume Zarathustra also is) one I first started using on internet gunfora, where participants would be far more likely to recognize it as such.

For them's as don't know what I'm talking about, see http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~stratton/en-page.html.

Doing as you suggest in public venues is frowned upon.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

If we are getting into gun talk, we better shut this one down.