Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
As any churchgoer who tuned in to watch the recent NBA finals contest between the Lakers and Celtics already knows, the term redemption is probably now heard more often in NBA sports broadcasts than in homilies. A Google search under "redemption" and "NBA" generates approximately 2 million hits—more hits than "redemption" and "Christianity." The term can also be found in more than 2,600 stories on ESPN.com.
What does redemption mean in the world of professional basketball and sports more broadly? It involves making up for—or, yes, "atoning"—for a poor performance. When the Lakers beat Boston, for instance, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times called the victory "redemption for the Celtics' 2008 Finals beating."
More often, though, sports journalists use the term to praise the individual performances of NBA superstars. Thus, the Associated Press reported that Kobe Bryant "found redemption" after he won a title in 2009 without the aid of his nemesis and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal.
Manute Bol, who died last week at the age of 47, is one player who never achieved redemption in the eyes of sports journalists. His life embodied an older, Christian conception of redemption that has been badly obscured by its current usage.
Bol, a Christian Sudanese immigrant, believed his life was a gift from God to be used in the service of others. As he put it to Sports Illustrated in 2004: "God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back."
He was not blessed, however, with great athletic gifts. As a center for the Washington Bullets, Bol was more spectacle than superstar. At 7 feet, 7 inches tall and 225 pounds, he was both the tallest and thinnest player in the league. He averaged a mere 2.6 points per game over the course of his career, though he was a successful shot blocker given that he towered over most NBA players.
Bol reportedly gave most of his fortune, estimated at $6 million, to aid Sudanese refugees. As one twitter feed aptly put it: "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals."
When his fortune dried up, Bol raised more money for charity by doing what most athletes would find humiliating: He turned himself into a humorous spectacle. Bol was hired, for example, as a horse jockey, hockey player and celebrity boxer. Some Americans simply found amusement in the absurdity of him on a horse or skates. And who could deny the comic potential of Bol boxing William "the Refrigerator" Perry, the 335-pound former defensive linemen of the Chicago Bears?
Bol agreed to be a clown. But he was not willing to be mocked for his own personal gain as so many reality-television stars are. Bol let himself be ridiculed on behalf of suffering strangers in the Sudan; he was a fool for Christ.
During his final years, Bol suffered more than mere mockery in the service of others. While he was doing relief work in the Sudan, he contracted a painful skin disease that ultimately contributed to his death.
Bol's life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption. In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior "humiliation" by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.
Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.
It is of little surprise, then, that the sort of radical Christianity exemplified by Bol is rarely understood by sports journalists. For all its interest in the intimate details of players' lives, the media has long been tone deaf to the way devout Christianity profoundly shapes some of them.
Obituary titles for Bol, for example, described him as a humanitarian rather than a Christian. The remarkable charity and personal character of other NBA players, including David Robinson, A. C. Green and Dwight Howard, are almost never explicitly connected to their own intense Christian faith. They are simply good guys.
Christian basketball players hope that their "little lights" shine in a league marked by rapacious consumption and marital infidelity. They could shine even brighter if sports journalists acknowledged that such players seek atonement and redemption in a far more profound way than mere athletic success.
Jon A. Shields is assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Don Miller described this song by Griffin House (a fellow Miamian, now living in Nashville) as having a "Tom Petty feel." Insightful and accurate and a great compliment, it reminded me of Last Dance for Mary Jane but about something important a la Won't Back Down. I have been a Griffin fan for a long time, ever since hearing his CD "Lost and Found" in my favorite coffee shop, Kofenya. I have seen him twice in concert and man, the guy can write a song to lose your heart to and in the next minute make one that elicits a response of "I agree, well said" or "Are you so sure? Cause that offends me." Either way, I consider it good art because it elicits that response. Check his stuff out. I don't think you will regret it.
Monday, July 5, 2010
For the inaugural My Music Monday, I present Ben Rector. I found out about Ben through a great website called BriteRevolution.com and was instantly smitten. I have always been a sucker for piano pop and Ben is kind of a less sarcastic Ben Folds (what is with piano guys named Ben?). The song that got my most was called "Hank", a song to his nephew that made me wish I had written it. Favorite line: "Go and find the girl for whom your love is selfless, someone who makes you helpless to change the way you feel. And stay away from girls who always look so pretty but whose hearts arent fitting for the man in you I see." It is just good, upbeat most of the time, piano-pop that doesn't try to be more than it is but still speaks in a way that isn't simply rose colored bubble gum pop. To download for free, check out the link below.
If you like some of the music I recommend, please let your friends know about this. I am going to try to build somewhat of a blog following, which means I value your input and time. Thanks for giving me a shot.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Let me explain. Do you have those moments in life that are permanently nailed down by some event outside of your life? Perhaps it is a song that was playing on your first date, and everytime you hear that song, it takes you back. Perhaps it is your favorite sports team winning the championship on the week you graduated (San Antonio Spurs, 2003). For me, the World Cup brings me back to four years ago, when I was in the town of Ohrid, Macedonia, watching the final game with my closest Miami and Macedonian friends.
My trip to Ohrid was with a Campus Crusade for Christ Summer Project. It was one of those pivotal moments in my life where I had one idea for my life and that idea slowly got turned on its head. It was one of those trips that they make movies about; beautiful international locale, drama and love found (Joel and Caitlin eventually got married), of crazy adventures, naked cliff jumps, growth, pranks, and friendship. And above all, for me, it was a time where God continued to show me what it means to follow Him.
Ohrid is one of the most beautiful places in the world; at least looking back through my rose-colored glasses it is. And it was one of the most influential places in my life. Yet it is in the past. And sometimes the past is hard to look back on. I have come a long way from then and still have a long way to go. Many of those who went are now married, some with kids. Two of us are getting married in the next 4 months (congrats Kimberly...and me:) and everyone is beyond Miami University, some to staff with CCC and others to jobs elsewhere. The relationships I had during that time in Ohrid I thought would be with me for the rest of my life. And they are in some ways. But it isn't what I had imagined.
Jane Armstrong once gave a talk my freshman year of college about how God brings people into your life for a season and may take them out of your life again. For that season, as a soon to be college senior, I didn't have a whole lot of people in my day to day life who knew me deeply. So God brought people into my life to teach me. To challenge me to step out and be willing to take risks. He brought dear friends into my life to teach me what it means to love so much that it brings me to tears. He showed me a little glimpse of His heart for the world and it broke my heart to see those who need Him. There are so many lessons I learned from that trip, so many things that in my weaker moments, I wish I could go back and live there again, with the same people, and experience it over and over again.
I always swore I would go back to Macedonia, to relive those moments. And I hope one day I do make it back. Not to relive those moments, but to be able to see where this grande adventure has taken me and what God has done in my life. To remember not for the purpose of living in the past, but for the purpose of praising God for how he used the past to shape me. I will always love Macedonia... and the World Cup will always bring me back to that time in my life where I would do anything for a palacinki and peach tea.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Light from Heat (Conservation of Energy in the Nicene Creed, Heat Pumps, and Steve Perry of Journey)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
~ C.S. Lewis, page 116 of The Magicians Nephew
Yes, yes, I know, this is another post about music but this is one that you need to download. That a band would get their name from the page number of a CS Lewis book is the coolest band name idea I have ever heard of and just one of many reasons that Page CXVI is about the coolest worship band I know (and I do know them...well, I have met them many times). Why, you ask?
One: I am not too keen on female lead singers but theirs is one that can sing in a way that makes me soul soar. Even if you don't like Jesus music, you can listen to their music and be impressed at the musical quality.
Two: They take ancient hymns and update the music on them. I know this is not a new concept but I think they do it better than most, even better than a lot of the stuff I have heard coming out of Passion worship music. To check out their first album FOR FREE, click on the above banner! Seriously, it has been on rotation in my iPod for the last year and I am still not sick of it.
Three: As mentioned before, ow cool is it that the band is named after a page in CS Lewis' book "The Magicians Nephew" (part of the Chronicles of Narnia) where Aslan sings the world into existence. Yes, music has that kind of power.
Their music goal is "the idea of making hymns accessible and known again. They are some of the richest, most meaningful, and moving pieces of music ever written." With their first album, they updated Come Thou Fount, In Christ Alone, My Jesus I Love Thee, When I Survey the Wonderful Cross, Nothing But the Blood, Solid Rock, and Joy... and all that is available to you FREE this week only! Click on any of the links or go to http://www.pagecxvi.com/share. Tell your friends. This is really good stuff. The track list of the new album is
- How Great Thou Art
- Praise to the Lord
- Jesus I Am Resting, Resting
- Rock of Ages
- Abide With Me
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Here are my recommendations if you head on over to http://www.briterevolution.com/artists/highly recommend that you download their Best of Brite: Vol 1. That will give you a sampling of the goodness that came out of year one. Two, for the folksters out there, check out Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (my favorite). Andrew Belle and Adam Agin are two new discoveries of folk-pop and Ben Rector offers up a refreshing dose of piano-pop, al la Ben Folds, just not as snarky. Matthew Perryman Jones offers up one of my favorite flavors of rock; not too heavy, not too folky, not too poppy... just right. There are a lot more that are really good but I will let you poke around and discover. ENJOY!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
That may sound wonderful to you and very spiritual, or it may sound very bizarre, depending on what you believe but if it sounds bizarre, think of it this way; it was a bunch of people getting real with each other, taking of the masks, and being brutally honest about their failures and encouraging/praying for each other. There are some things in life that stick with you, that you remember word for word. Well, that night, I remember someone that I hold in the highest regard (Matt W.) saying this: "Life is messy. The beautiful thing is that we get to pursue God in the mess."
For some reason that hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. And it still applies today. Life is messy. I keep waiting for it to clear up, for life to become simpler, easier, less complex. Instead, it only seems as if things keep piling on and I don't know if it will ever stop. I see my parents and they don't have any kids in the house anymore (except for me, for the time being) and they are busier than ever with grandkids and jobs and volunteer stuff and people who need prayed for... the list goes on. I keep thinking that "All I need is a job, and things will simplify." Go ahead, laugh, I know it sounds ridiculous that a job could simplify things. But I just want to have life not be so messy. And I don't think life works that way.
Life is messy. We screw up, we make mistakes, we earn and lose money and trust and friends and life continues to be complicated and messy. But the beauty of it, as Matt said, is that we get to pursue God in the mess. It isn't as if God is waiting for us to get our stuff together, get it all figured out, and then we can follow Him. We can pursue Him and follow Him when it feels like life is upside down. It's like we are (as a wise woman and friend Tracy put it) "slogging through miles of waist-deep mud to get to a treasure." And you know one of the most beautiful things about it? God pursues us in the mess. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Even when we are like Israel in the Old Testament and run the other way, God calls after us, chases us, allures us. He pursues us in this mess we have made.
Life is messy. My life is messy. And I screw it up a lot, but I want to continue to pursue God in the mess.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
In the random news of the day: Happy Festa delle Donne! This means Festival of the Women. Big deal in Italy, all women get these cool flowers, and you are supposed to celebrate the fact that women are a blessing to the planet (my own summary). So women out there, you are appreciated and I hope you enjoy your day :)
And in the slightly inappropriate story of the day, I was driving with my Dad back from North Carolina (was there for a job interview) and I saw perhaps one of the most inappropriate pictures I could see while driving: There was a school bus pulling out of an Adult Entertainment store parking lot. In the bus driver's defense, I think it was turning around but really, couldn't you have chosen a different parking lot? I mean, it just doesn't look good to see a yellow school bus turning around under a sign that says "Novelties, Lingerie, Toys"... I mean, do you really want to encourage kids to be asking "Why is that store for adults but advertising toys?" Common sense, Mr Bus Driver, common sense.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On the tail end of the Olympics and as a prequel to the upcoming World Cup, I stumbled across this article about Landon Donovan. It does a great job of deconstructing arguments that the MLS is a drastically inferior (though it slightly is) and more important, destroys the argument that the MLS is hurting the development of players. If you are interested in soccer, this is a worthwhile read. CHECK IT OUT HERE
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
On a completely different note (sort of), I saw the Hope for Haiti Now telethon on CNN tonight and Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris gave one of the most beautiful renditions of the Leonard Cohen classic "Hallelujah" that I have ever heard. Check it out below
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Never Die Easy
By Christopher D Rule (published in "The Sound of Poetry", an audio collection)
It was all about the game
Old school, the best school
It wasn't showing off,
I've got no respect for those players
Make them feel me a little.
Go full blast.
If you don't explode into him,
you're going to take the impact.
Never Die Easy.
Make him earn your death.
It's ok to lose, to die,
but not without trying, without giving your best.