Archive for April, 2006

Keeping Time

April 30, 2006

Eugene Peterson’s book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, offers the subtitle, A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, something the introduction defines as “the attention that the church community gives to keeping what we think about God (theology) in organic connection with the way we live with God (spirituality).” But I’d like to extend Peterson’s conversation offer to a wider audience than he and I, so expect this theme (connecting what we think about God to the way we live) to guide my Sunday articles for the next forty of fifty years, give or take a decade.

Let’s take it from the top: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” I learned it early in life. I remember it today as well as I remember how to spell my name. I was taught that this passage was the arena in which we fought atheism and evolution, but I was never taught that this text was foundational for a life lived today. But it seems to be. It teaches us how to live with the mind-boggling gift of time.

Leonard Sweet writes, “Time is life’s fundamental necessity but has become the ultimate luxury – the most expensive and extravagant thing we have. We’re in a time famine…” Peterson adds, “Among the many desecrations visited upon the creation, the profanation of time ranks near the top, at least among North Americans… The most conspicuous evidences of this desecration are hurry and procrastination.” He adds, “Genesis 1 is not in a hurry. And Genesis 1 does not procrastinate.”

It’s true (is it not?) that Christians have fallen captive to the desecration of time. We somehow come to believe that time in this life is just to be endured, hurried through until heaven, wishing life away for the “pie in the sky by and by.” Alongside, we learn the lesson of “getting done what has to be done” while putting off anything that might stand in our way, like, for instance, a child who wants to play a game, or a beaten-down Jew dying on the side of the road. Bottom line: Speed-walk to heaven with blinders on.

But Genesis 1 does not do this. Instead, we discover it to be downright rhythmic. There is a cadence. Try it (I’ll wait!) – read Genesis 1 out loud and see if you don’t almost hear the music trying to get in step with its cadence. You even find yourself “keeping time.” Ah, that’s it. Keeping time. The very thing we don’t do much of anymore.

There is a world around us, a world we are blessed to enter into each and every day. It is filled with breathtaking wonder and exquisite detail and the most fascinating people, most of which we never see as we hurry through life on our way to something more important. But where we are going is not more important. Our first key to noticing this important fact of life (remembering maybe?) is in recovering the rhythm of time.

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Picture of the Week

April 29, 2006

From the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show at Disney-MGM Studios.

Pujols’ Grandstanding

April 27, 2006

On behalf of Cardinal Nation, I submit this recent article from mlb.com to defend our Musial-esque hero from recent housefly allegations of grandstanding. Here’s to a little humility from someone who doesn’t have to be humble.

Pujols lets bat do the talking
04/25/2006 12:40 AM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

ST. LOUIS — This time, Albert Pujols acted like he’s been there before. Of course, he has — 11 other times this season and on 212 other occasions in his career. Not to mention two previous occasions against the same pitcher, Oliver Perez.

But the last time he took Perez deep, Pujols showed a different side. Despite the fact that his home run against Perez last Tuesday at PNC Park came with his team already down, 8-0, Pujols tossed his bat defiantly. It didn’t sit well in some quarters, including some quarters of his own clubhouse.

Pujols was making a point about Perez. With said point made, he felt no need to do it again. On Monday night, when he cranked a first-inning shot against Perez, Pujols made no special show. He motored around the bases quickly and was done with it.

“If you look at it, he struck me out last year and he did all his dancing and all that stuff, and I remembered that,” Pujols said. “That’s what happened in Pittsburgh. I hit that ground ball back at him [in the first inning in Pittsburgh] and he did his little dance again, and I got really upset.

“I went to the video room and I told my guy Chad, ‘I’m going to hit the next ball and I’m going to hit it a long way. But don’t look at the ball. Look at where the bat is going to land.’ Because I respect this game just like everybody else. And when I see a guy like that, with the talent that he has, disrespecting the game — that might be the way that he pitches, but I don’t care.

“I don’t care what you do out there. But when you start pointing and looking at the guys at the plate when you strike somebody out, that’s disrespecting the player. I probably shouldn’t have taken it to that level, where I threw my bat like that. But at that moment I was pretty [angry].”

After explaining his rationale to the throng of reporters around his locker on Monday night, Pujols also expressed some regret about his show.

“[Scott] Rolen mentioned something, but he knew why I did it,” Pujols said. “He knew I was pretty upset about the way the guy is, but he was one of the guys who told me, ‘Hey, you’re a better player than that. You respect this game so much. Don’t bring it down to that level, because you are the one that is going to look stupid.’ Which I did. I looked stupid. That was my fault. I’m human. I make mistakes. Drop it like it’s hot. That’s it.”

As far as Pujols is concerned, the matter is closed.

“I heard a couple of people say something yesterday about the home run that I hit against him in Pittsburgh,” he said. “They were talking about it. My wife was actually the one that brought it to my attention, and I told her why I did it. I told her why I did it that day.

“And that’s it. I need to drop it. I hit one tonight against him and I ran the bases like I always do. I probably shouldn’t bring it down to that level like I did last week, but I showed today that that’s not the way I play the game. At the same time, I need to respect my teammates. Because I don’t want any of my guys to get hurt from me doing something stupid like that.”

The subject didn’t even come up with Perez after the game. The Pittsburgh left-hander was more concerned about falling to 1-3 and giving up seven runs in five innings. While the ballpark was different, and so was Pujols’ reaction, Perez said that what Pujols hit was just as it had been at PNC.

“It was the same as the last game,” he said. “It was a little cutter that was supposed to be outside and it was in the middle.”

A great move … 10 years too late

April 27, 2006

Finally! Some news to celebrate! Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson to retire

Caption Time

April 27, 2006

Although I’m afraid to ask…

Let them vote.

April 26, 2006

Please ignore the web source for this article and give it a fair read. Here’s an excerpt:

Let’s let the Iraqi people vote on whether American troops should stay in Iraq.President Bush has said that if a democratically elected government of Iraq asked us to leave, we would. I think Bush is sincere, but the truth is that no Iraqi government is going to ask U.S. troops to withdraw anytime soon, because American troops are the only thing holding the country together……But at the end of the day, America still might lose. I’d hate to see that happen. But I can’t think of a more honorable way for America to withdraw from Iraq and to prove it respects democracy. America won’t bow to bullets and bombs — but it will to ballots.

It sounds like a GREAT idea to me.

A Little Airplane Etiquette

April 25, 2006

Folks, I’ve got nothing really substantive this week. But, Salon had a post today about whether or not it’s okay to give your child Benadryl to sedate them during a long flight, and in response the following letter was posted, which I will reproduce in its entirety because I was rolling.

Annoying People On Planes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Among those who can irritate you include…

* the drunks who harass the flight attendants
* the idiots who insist on blathering at top volume
* the jackass who hears the ding, and immediately reclines his seat so that his head is in your lap
* the moron in the bulkhead who thinks that the space under his seat — in front of YOUR legs — is HIS storage space
* the person who waits to poop until they get in the plane and then stink and clog up one of the two freakin’ restrooms
* the tired/irritated/attitudinal flight attendants who are so sick to death of all of us passengers and aren’t afraid to show it
* the sullen teenagers listening to their IPOD at full volume
* the person who insists on using 2 armrests
* the idiots with laptops who set them up, and then proceed to use up the airspace of the people on either side with their elbows as they types
* The idiots who bring every piece of luggage they own on with them and insist on stuffing it into every available carryon space
* the guys who watch porn on their laptops/portable DVDs while you’re sitting in the place (yes, they are out there, I’ve seen them
* the truly morbidly obese people who hang over the armrests and take up your space
* the guys who fall asleep and then proceed to snore like a freight train
* the person who falls asleep and whose head ends up bobbing on YOUR shoulder
* the irritating seatmate (chatty old lady? horny single guy? bored business guy who’d rather yak than do his spreadsheets?) who insists on talking to you when you don’t want to talk
* yes, the babies who cry out of discomfort.
* And yes, occasionally, bratty children whose parents are not controlling them

Why are children singled out when there are SO MANY IRRITATING PEOPLE flying these days?

How about we make it equal opportunity discrimination? If irritating kids can’t fly, how about we also ban lonely, horny, chatty, morbidly obese, loudly IPODing, porn-watching passengers, and obnoxious “I’d rather be anywhere else” flight crews?

As someone who flies with children — children who are well-behaved and NOT drugged, and who on rare occasions have cried for a few minutes during a landing — I do concede that there are a few things I think should be done.

First: Do not allow free lap infants. Period. It’s bad enough for everyone, parent included, to have to bring a baby on a plane. Don’t let them do it for free. Make them buy a seat, and put the baby in a carseat. It’s safer, and it’s more fair. If a baby’s going to use up our patience, at least he/she should be a paying passenger.

Second: DO allow the pre-boarding of children. Many airlines are getting rid of this. Ummmm…why???? Hauling a carseat, baby bag, and all the other crap, we NEED to pre-board, so we’re not blocking your way for 10 minutes trying to install the bloody seat and get our kids in their places.

Third: If you can group all the kids in one section of the plane, BE MY GUEST!! Do it! I don’t mind, and frankly, it’d be a relief to be out of earshot and range of the sighing, huffing and puffing buffoons who start grimacing the minute they see me and my kids. Of course, they’re also quite frequently one of the IRRITATING passengers and far more irritating than any child could ever be.

Fourth, and finally: parents, REIN IN YOUR BRATS!!!!

Don’t let them run up and down the aisles.
Don’t let them climb under the seats. (one kid did this from row 33 all the way to first class on a flight I was on.)
Don’t let your kid kick or otherwise hit or disrupt the seat in front of him.
Don’t let your kid bounce on or in his seat.

A personal anecodate. I once sat in the window seat, while a mother let her 3 year old child climb onto my lap, so that Jr. could look out the window.

“Oh, I hope you don’t mind!!?” the hapless mother kept saying.

“Well, I actually really would prefer…”

“Oh, Jr. LOOKIE LOOKIE….see the clouds? LOOK!”

Jr. meanwhile jumps up and down on my thighs in excitement, in his Buster Browns.

He then proceeds back to the middle seat, and, this being the era where they still served actual food on planes, his mother opens up the syrup for his pancakes (yes, she gave syrup to a toddler.)

Toddler covers himself in syrup, and THEN decides it’s time for MORE sightseeing out the window, including using my head as leverage to navigate his way back to MY window.

I was COVERED in syrup by the end of the flight.

That mother, and her child… NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!!!

So here is where I join the self-righteous boobs.

If you can’t keep your kid quiet and well-behaved, then don’t fly. Again, I’m not talking about a little altitude-induced crying by a baby. But if you have a bratty child who can’t sit still and isn’t going to behave, then drive. Take a bus. Take a boat. But don’t fly.

And above all… don’t sit next to me!!

Who supports the troops? Anyone? Bueller?

April 24, 2006

Thanks Ben Stein.

Of Shipbuilding

April 23, 2006

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint Exupery

What do you long for most?

Of the kazillion possible answers to that question, at least one emerges common to all: sense of purpose. Significance. To matter in some shape or form. In his book, Summoned to Lead, Leonard Sweet put it this way: “Everyone is searching for a ‘higher purpose.’ Everyone wants to be part of a mission that they care about, a mission that will change the world. Mission is what gets people motivated… People will put in time for a job; they will give their lives for a mission.”

From this particular starting point however, purpose splinters into a million pieces. Some people live to collect Star Trek memorabilia while others sweat blood to win Yard of the Month. Some daydream at every opportunity of the perfect vacation while others see their life’s calling to make everyone they encounter as miserable as themselves. Bank accounts and fishing boats, mansions and marriages, there are endless options when it comes to life aspirations.

Yet once recognized, it seems a healthy thing to do to consider our life’s longing with a dose of perspective. Corporate consultant, Charles Handy, told this story, “I once sat up on stage with a C.E.O. in front of the senior members of his company. The C.E.O. said his goal was to create the world’s largest organization. He wanted to grow at a truly astronomical rate. I said to him that the two largest organizations in the world today are the Red Army in China and the British National Health Service. And I asked him whether either of those two models was what he had in mind. He was rather embarrassed. Suddenly, growth for its own sake seemed to be a very funny notion.”

So I ask again, What do you long for most? And once said out loud, with perspective, is that worth your life? (Even if the answer is, I don’t know. Maybe especially then.)

The author of Ecclesiastes asked these sorts of questions and came up with a conclusion that God’s way is the way to go, and though I happen to agree, I have to say it’s a bit easier said than applied – mostly because God’s designs on us seem to vary from person to person. Noah lived for a rainy day. Abraham lived for a foreign country. Joseph lived for an odd dream, while Moses lived for a rescue mission. Jesus lived for an execution.

So what is your uniquely designed mission? And what is mine?

I ask because, though I hate to admit it, I’m afraid much of our religious ship-building is long on wood-gathering, work-division, and order-following, and sadly deficient of yearning for a vast and endless sea. And the result is reflected in the quality of the ship.

Picture of the Week

April 22, 2006


I took this picture of Maria Sharapova’s serve three weeks ago from the top of Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Florida, at the women’s singles finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open.