Friday, October 28, 2005

E-myths: ABC, The Practice and apologies

(By Erik)

As you no doubt know by now, the Internet is the biggest repository of misinformation ever spawned by mankind.

I’m doing what little I can to turn the tide of tomfoolery, shining light into the dark corners of cyberspace.

To wit, I’ve gotten the same e-mail forwarded from two different sources this week, so I thought I’d share my findings.

The e-mail claims that a man named Jim Neugent wrote the following message to ABC after viewing a controversial episode of the network’s hit show, The Practice:

ABC is obsessed (or should I say abscessed) with the subject of homosexuality. I will no longer watch any of your attempts to convince the world that homosexuality is ok. THE PRACTICE can be a fairly good show but last night's program was so typical of your agenda. You picked the 'dufus' of the office to be the one who was against the idea of his mother being gay and made him look like a whiner because he had convictions. This type of mentality calls people like me "gay basher". Read the first chapter of Romans (that's in the Bible) and see what the apostle Paul had to say about it. He and God and Jesus were all 'gay bashers.' What if she'd fallen in love with her cocker spaniel is that an alternative lifestyle? (By the way the Bible speaks against that, too.)

I take issue with the notion that Jesus was a “gay basher,” but anyway …

The e-mail then claims that Neugent received “ABC’s reply from the ABC on-line Webmaster:”

How about getting your nose out of the Bible (which is ONLY a book of stories compiled by MANY different writers hundreds of years ago) and read the Declaration of Independence (what our nation is built on) where it says "All Men are Created Equal" - and try treating them that way for a change!? Or better yet, try thinking for yourself and stop using an archaic book of stories as your crutch for your existence.”

Whoa! Not nice! Is your blood boiling, fellow Christians?

(Don’t be too hasty and jump to conclusions. That’s what the e-mail wants you to do. Keep reading.)

The e-mail ends there with a response from Neugent that he’s going to contact his local newspaper. And, of course, there’s the obligatory Internet call to arms — “forward this to every single person you know!”

When I read this, I thought, “This HAS to be a hoax.” The first place I go whenever I’m forwarded an e-mail is It’s a sort of urban myth debunker Web site. I typed in the search terms and …

Whaddaya know. I was wrong. The incident really did happen to a guy named Jim Neugent in 1999 in Mena, Ark.

HOWEVER, the e-mail message only gives you half the story. Turns out that Mr. Neugent got another message later from ABC. Here’s the text:

Dear Mr. Neugent:

We apologize for the e-mail message that was sent to you with comments that reflect neither the view of ABC nor of its executives. Viewer mail is traditionally handled by our Audience Information department for response. Your message was inappropriately handled by a programmer from I want to assure you that the response that you received does not in any way reflect the views of ABC Television, and most importantly is not at all consistent with the manner in which KATV, our valued partner in Little Rock, would ever treat their audience/community members.

Unfortunately, as in any organization, there are bound to be a few individuals that step out of line. To that end, we completed a comprehensive investigation into the matter earlier this afternoon. While the individual was deeply contrite and wanted to apologize to you, we felt that his actions were reprehensible and terminated him immediately.

Specifically in response to your original concerns regarding the subject of homosexuality in our programming, the ABC programming department has tried to treat such subjects in a sensitive manner. We recognize that we are serving a large, diverse audience with a wide range of attitudes towards all types of entertainment programming. We believe that programs thoughtfully reflecting social issues existing in our present society constitute proper television faire. We appreciate your original comments and take serious note of your thoughts on the potential direction of future story lines.

We are glad that you brought the e-mail incident to our attention. We truly regret that this happened, and we hope you understand by our actions that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior from any member of our staff.

Finally, I would like to once again add that the response that you received should in no way be attributed to our partner in Little Rock, KATV. As you well know, KATV has been the news and public affairs leader in Little Rock for years, and will be for many more. A finer, more committed television station does not exist. I would not want their reputation to suffer in any way due to our mishap.

Please accept our apologies and regrets.


Daren Benzi ABC Television Network

I find it odd that this portion of the story was left out of the e-mail, which continues to this day to circulate on the Internet. It joins the hundreds of other e-mails that seem to be designed for the same purpose — to make Christians angry for no good reason.

I also can’t help but think that a nicely worded initial letter from Mr. Neugent would have prevented all of this hubbub. His obsessive (or should I say abscessive) behavior clearly violates the “admonish one another with all wisdom” rule.

If you want to live for Christ, don’t waste your time complaining to ABC. Instead, turn off The Practice and go practice Christianity. Get off your couch and be Christ to someone.

And please check before forwarding e-mail.

I math good

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Roger Ebert's job is quite safe, evidently

(by Erik)

Jeanie had a day off from the NICU today, so we went to see the new Wallace and Gromit movie.

We highly recommend the film, although I still think The Wrong Trousers is the claymationed couple’s best work to date.

Every once in a while I feel the need to voice my opinion about films I’ve seen. I recently rented The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a “re-imagined” version of the classic Douglas Adams sci-fi comedy novel. I went to an online movie site and left the following review.

At first I started to write a “normal” review, but then I scrapped it and instead wrote a sort of tribute to Douglas Adams:

“I just now finished watching the DVD — and when I say ‘just now,’ I in fact mean earlier today, but of course I might as well say ‘just now’ because it's the same difference, isn't it?

“I suppose if you're reading this on, say, March 27, 2034, then ‘just now’ is referring to a time nearly 29 years ago when I watched this DVD — which, if you’re living in 2034, likely means nothing to you since DVDs are no doubt obsolete.

“In that case it wouldn't suffice to say ‘just now’ at all, unless you're a member of the insidious Ordothion race of Gamma 12 Zeta, east of Yorkshire.

“Ordothions live to be upward of 2,184,362 years old, and frequently refer to time spans of 29 years as ‘just now.’ “They also refer to periods of 10 years or less as ‘right now’ — and they refer to dachshunds as ‘rather long dogs.’

“Of course it should be pointed out here that the Ordothion year is equal to one-hundredth of a second on Earth, making an Ordothion’s lifespan about 6.067672 hours in earth time. So an Ordothion is quite unlikely to watch The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy since it would take roughly one-third of its natural life.

“Besides that, it’s well known that Ordothions don’t have eyes or ears and “see” using their tongues. They also prefer comedies starring Kate Hudson.

“By the way, I thought the movie was great.”

Last time I checked, the movie review site kindly informed me that “0 of 1 people found this review helpful.”

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Uf-da! What a name!

(By Erik)

Tryggestad (we pronounce it “TRIG-es-tad,” but the actual pronunciation is closer to the two-syllable “TRIG-schted”) is Norwegian.

It’s the name of a small farming village in Norway — the home of my great-grandfather. “Trygg” is the Norwegian word for “safe.” (There’s a Norwegian company called Trygg Playground Co. that does business here in the States. They make playground equipment, so obviously having “safe” in their name was a good idea.)

Evidently the village was named “safe town” because it was a refuge from the avalanche-prone mountains that surround it.

For a long time we thought my great-grandfather’s name was Ole Iverson (because his father’s name was Iver), and he changed his name when he came to the United States, but I believe we’ve since found some records from Norway where he’s referred to as Ole Tryggestad. It’s a family name still in use in Norway today.

Great-grandpa came to the United States in 1910. And people have been mispronouncing his name ever since.

Two of Ole’s uncles, Andres and Nils Tryggestad, came to America in the 1870s. Their offspring settled in the Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin. Today there’s a bunch of Tryggestads up in those parts. (There’s even another Erik Tryggestad, believe it or not. I think he works with lasers.)

Ole Tryggestad settled in South Dakota and raised a family. His son, Irvin Orville Tryggestad, married Margaret Helen Loen, also the child of Norwegian immigrants. They moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., and raised three sons. The oldest, Thomas Nolan Tryggestad, is my dad (who, incidentally, hates cold weather and suffers from a malady our family refers to as “the hard chill”).

Dad joined the Air Force and moved to Washington, D.C., where he met my mom, Karen Puckett, from East Tennessee. My sister, Amy, and I were born in Alexandria, Va. (I'm the oldest.)


Velkommen to Tryggbløg

After years (or months … maybe weeks, actually) of complaining that blogs are a complete waste of time, here we are with a blog of our own.

I’m Erik Tryggestad of Edmond, Okla. My wife, Jeanie, has been reading her friends’ blogs for some time, and that was part of the reason we decided to launch this site.

I don’t know whether or not blogging (I’m assuming such a word would have two g’s together like that) will prove to be a fad in the great universe of things that define this decade, but it seems to be an increasingly popular form of communication, and I’m in the communication business.

I’m a reporter with The Christian Chronicle, a monthly newspaper for members of churches of Christ. We’re online at Oklahoma Christian University owns our publication.

Jeanie is a first-year pediatric resident at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. We’ve been married for close to two-and-a-half years. She’s the red in my painting, to borrow a line from the film I Am Sam. Jeanie grew up in Altus, Okla. I’m from Macon, Ga.

We’re not quite sure what sort of stuff we’ll post on this blog. There will be some family news, and likely some of my bizarre rants about television commercials.

I’m also hoping to use this site to give the Chronicle’s readers a bit of insight into the editorial process we use at the newspaper.

The Chronicle, like most newspapers in the United States, is looking for ways to connect with new readers, especially those under age 50. Some months ago my brother-in-law asked me for a copy of the paper. A popular Oklahoma Christian professor, Curt Niccum, had written a column for our paper and he wanted to read it. He found out about the column by reading Dr. Niccum’s blog.

That means something, I said to myself. So here we are.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Recent news from India/Pakistan border

Following is a story I wrote exclusively for the Christian Chronicle's Web site, You'll find additional stories about relief efforts for the recent hurricanes on the site. -- Erik

Missionary taking aid to Pakistan sees 'chaos everywhere'

Minister says 4 million need supplies, medical help in Kashmir region as death toll reaches 54,000

By Erik Tryggestad
The Christian Chronicle

Few Indian evangelists would have traveled into Kashmir in years past. But on Oct. 11 Paul Renganathan and a team of relief workers drove through it and up to the border of Pakistan, a nation that once stood on the brink of war with India over the disputed region.

Renganathan, a minister based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, accompanied Tariq Abdulla Malik, Abdul Rashid, Manzoor Ahamad and Ali Mohamad into towns destroyed by the Oct. 8 earthquake to distribute a truckload of supplies. Several ministries in the United States also are arranging for relief shipments.

The 7.6-magnitude earthquake’s epicenter was close to Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan-controlled region of Kashmir but caused devastation for hundreds of miles throughout the Himalayan region of Pakistan and India. The quake killed an estimated 54,000 people, officials said Sunday.

“What I have seen is chaos everywhere — injured, hungry, sick, homeless people,” Renganathan said. “Exposure to cold weather killed many children. Many (who were) seriously injured still are waiting for medical attention.”

The team visited towns and villages in the Indian-controlled regions of Kashmir, including Uri, Jabala, Salamabad, Nowgam and Tangdhar. Almost every home in each location was destroyed, as well as schools and hospitals. Most of the survivors were sitting along the roads, in the rain and snow, waiting for relief. Many were weeping, said Renganathan, who estimated that as many as 4 million people in the region need assistance.

Healing Hands International, based in Nashville, Tenn., was waiting for a report from its assessment team, said Roberto Santiago, the ministry’s international development coordinator.

John Kachelman, minister for the Judsonia, Ark., church, also is assessing needs and planning to send shipments of relief supplies from church members to the affected region using his contacts at the U.S. State Department.

In the Philippines, church member Chito Cusi said that MARCH for Christ, plans to send a team to the affected area. The medical ministry has sent several teams to areas affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami

“We are ready. Our experience in Sri Lanka and Indonesia … give us a big advantage,” Cusi said.

“We can be among the first to hit ground zero with the love of Christ.”

The region’s mountainous terrain and bad weather have slowed aid thus far, according to news agencies, but meeting the emotional needs of the victims will take even longer. Indian church members outside the affected zone said that the quake nonetheless had shaken their sense of security, especially after the Dec. 26 tsunami.

G. David Illankumaran, minister for the Maduma Nagar church in southeastern India, said that it seems that “north India and south India are under attack by nature, What will happen in next minute, we do not know.”

But the earthquake also has united the people of Kashmir after years of hostility, Renganathan said.

“India and Pakistan were preparing for war some time ago,” Renganathan said. “Now God has given something else for these people to do for a good while.

“And (that’s what) they are doing now — helping each other.”

In Guatemala November 2004

Erik and Jeanie in Guatemala
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
This is a photo of Erik and Jeanie in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, in November 2004 during a Health Talents International medical mission trip.