Monday, February 06, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think (Super Bowl Edition)

1) I think last night's Super Bowl wasn't a classic, but it was entertaining. Big Ben's performance wasn't his best, but he did what was needed to get the job done (I feel that way on occasional Sundays). It was good to see an organization like the Steelers which exhibits "old school" values like loyalty, integrity, and character win the big one. How refreshing it is that a coach had 14 years to win a Super Bowl in an age when coaches are out the door if they have a losing season. I hope this example of patience isn't lost on us all.

2) As for the halftime show, it was, well, I don't know, kinda not-so-good. I think a bunch of old guys ate the Rolling Stones and are touring under their name.

3) Can you believe that not one person talked about one of the commercials from the Super Bowl last night in this office? Not one "office cooler" moment from any of the hundreds of ads last night, which is just, stunning. You'd think that a million-plus per 30-second spot there'd have been at least one memorable commercial.... I'll betcha heads are rolling on Madison avenue in the coming weeks.

4) A great Haiti Sunday yesterday at church. Some truly great stories came out of this year's "construction team" experience (our medical teams leave in a couple of weeks). As a part of the experience, the team built a home on a piece of land owned by our partner church in Bordes' which will house a single woman who is caring for three handicapped daughters. The picture of Brian Adams, one of our team members, carrying the oldest daughter, who is blind, from her old lean-to hut into a solid home sent chills down the spine. Larry Dietering's story of a Haitian immigrant working at a Starbucks in West Palm Beach refusing to take his money for a cup of coffee as thanks for "helping her people", tugged on the heart strings. All in all, just a great service.

It costs this congregation about $10,500 a year to educate and feed 180 elementary school students, and employ 8 teachers to do the job, at the Victory Christian School of Bordes, Haiti. $45 per student and $300 per teacher. If you would like to support a teacher or student for the 2006-2007 school year, please contact me at . Your contribution is tax-deductable and every penny you give will go to VCS, as we take absolutely nothing for administrative costs (we just send the money to the school administrator, who keep copius records to insure that the money will be used properly). And, remember that your $45 includes a meal a day for your student, which is in addition to their tuition, books, and supplies. It's the best deal going in education.

5) Since I'm one of about only 14 people left in the country that care about the NBA, I considered it very bad news when it was announced last week that Chris Andersen, a forward for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (they are in OC this season due to Katrina) was suspended two years for violating the league's drug policy. A two year suspension for a first time offense means that Andersen had to test positive for a "drug of abuse", which would include methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, or LSD (and all of its derivatives). Andersen had a tough road to NBA. Never a star, he worked his way up playing in pro leagues all over the globe, and eventually catching on in the NBDL, the NBA's "minor league". His long journey, and colorful style made him popular among fans in NO/OK and his performance in the dunk contest last year (which was awful) made him kind of a folk hero among hardcore NBA fans.

I had Andersen on (and off) my fantasy league team last year, and enjoyed following his career, which just seemed to be taking off. A kid who grew up in a group home, Andersen has had a rough life. I hope and pray he receives the help he needs to get his life on track, or that this positive test was a terrible mistake.

6) Our X-Box, which had been broken, returned from Microsoft today, fixed and ready to go. The boys, who had been waiting to play new games they received as Christmas gifts, were glad to see me come home from work..... so the X-Box could be hooked up. Needless to say the hero's welcome I received this evening, and the parade given my honor after the X-Box was working, gave way to blank stares and apparently, my invisability. Oh well... at least I can play "NBA '06" after they go to sleep.

7) "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine". I miss REM (Note to my grandmother: REM was a popular band in the late eighties and early nineties who made music that wasn't defined by the culture, but defined the culture. This is a lyric from one of their best songs, which I am listening to on ITunes). Seems like most of the new music out there now is just crap. I mean, I remember my mom and dad saying the same thing about bands like REM, but none-the-less, I just can't listen to music on popular radio any more. Dr. Bishman, our Senior Pastor, raves about the band Coldplay, but to be honest loyal blog-readers, they're just a poor-man's version of U2. Since Joseph, who is about the age of my parents, thought all the music of my era was crap (and hence, missed U2 in the process), he can enjoy Coldplay as something new and innovative. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

8) Watched "Lord of War" the other night, and if the movie was supposed to make the people who watched it angry, than it worked for me. If you haven't seen it (and if some swear words, sex scenes, drug use, and copius violence offends you easily... then rent the "Sound of Music" instead), the movie is the story of a man who becomes one of the world's first and foremost illegal arms dealers. Since the guy gets rich selling AK-47's to African warlords who use cocaine to hook boys as young as 7 years old (the age Max will be in a couple of weeks) into fighting in their private militia and committing genocide, he's not exactly a lovable hero. For those who have heard the horror stories that have come out of Liberia and Sierra Leone, this movie will upset you in ways you can't even imagine ( I know it did me). But there is a kicker ending, which I won't spoil, and the entire movie is really a set-up to make a strong political statement about the nature of war on this planet right now... and it's a statement that makes you think. How you react to it will determine how "red" or "blue" you are. Enjoy it, if you dare.

And for those who don't really want to think while they're watching a movie, get "Madagascar". Aimee, the boys, and I loved it!

9) I find it amazing that a small newspaper with a readership of 150,000 people in a small country of 5 million virtually-not-islamic people could spark the kind of protests that are going on across the Muslem world.

First, it shows just how quickly and far information can be transmitted on this planet. I don't think there are many people in Saudia Arabia who read the Jyllands-Posten. It was only after the cartoons in question were reported on Arabic TV and were transmitted on the internet that people went nuts. Time and distance are quickly becoming meaningless when it comes to transmitting information.

Second, the cartoons were an attempt on the publisher's part to illustrate the need for free speech and freedom of expression, even if you are afraid of the reaction it might receive. Well, after numerous Danish embassies were attacked, and the Iranian Parliment debated whether or not to issue a fatwah on the editor's heads (like S. Rushdie, years ago), you have to wonder if the lesson they hoped to teach wasn't missed in the Arab world. And what's more, one wonders what it would be like to live in a place where criticism of a particular religion would result in violence and death. All I know is that if you think I'm drawing a cartoon of Mohammed anytime soon, you're crazy.

What is going on the Arab world that's inspiring this kind of hatred and violence?

10) And finally, I'll be preaching this Sunday on the nature of evil (as inspired by the depiction of temptation in the C.S. Lewis', "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe") which generally comes us in forms we mistake as gifts of grace. I hope you enjoy it, find it helpful, and keeps you awake. And if you miss it, I'll try and re-cap here next week.

Until next time...

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