Ohhhh, Alright. I’ll Play.

January 31, 2008

I’ve been tagged by my old friend Chris Heard.

My job is now as follows:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

Immediately beside my left elbow – by far the closest book – I find the following as sentences 6, 7, and 8 on page 123 (skipping incomplete sentences at the beginning of the page):

His division numbers 46,500.

The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel.

(Chris – kind of cool that you tagged something like this by sheer accident, huh?). I’m going to exclude PC game manuals and a reference book and move to the next closest “book,” which yields this:

Use this bear as a tank at times, but always be careful, as mobs can take it out of you don’t watch the bear’s Morale and heal it with Beacon of Hope when the bear gets low. Your combat tactics, complete with your powerful new bear, proceed in this order:

1. Cast Friend of Bears.

Aaaand finally, quite ironically in light of the post Chris just tagged (cause this book has nothing to do with my Resurrection preparation efforts) we get this:

What could Jesus give? What could a dead man offer? The two women are not climbing the mountain to receive, they are going to the tomb to give.

Any guesses as to what material we are quoting in each instance?

And, to keep the game moving, I will tag Fajita (who probably needs a break from studies, anyway), Randy and Jennifer, Thurm, Steve, and Curtis.


Resurrection Redux

January 28, 2008

Well, only a few hours into it, my head is spinning again as a result of Jedi Master NT Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God. As usual, Wright manages to deal with a profoundly difficult academic subject in a way that is at least minimally accessible to any reader who is willing to work at things a little. And, no matter what the subject, his mellifluous prose is always a joy.

Better yet, the experience gives me hope. One can never “prove” the resurrection in an academic sense, of course, but there are good reasons to think that it did, in fact, happen, and Wright’s book manages to articulate an elaborate, but solid argument supporting just such a case.


What is Religion?

January 25, 2008

I’m reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions (Brandon Toporov and Father Luke Buckles) in an effort to arrive at a better understanding of religious traditions outside of Christianity.

In Chapter 2, Toporov and Buckles outline the common traits that are held by virtually all faiths. They are:

  • A belief in ancient truths.
  • A belief that there is something more than the apparent, physical world.
  • A belief that humans and Creation are interconnected.
  • A belief that the universe cannot be understood solely through rationality and logic.

In short, most faiths maintain that there is something more to our world than its appearance on the surface. Religious belief and practice are efforts to grasp at something that is mystical and divine, which goes beyond the surface.

The fact that so many people, in so many different cultures, are not only convinced that there is Something More, but that they are willing to devote their lives to getting in touch with Something More, is – I think – in and of itself very telling.

Why is the desire to be in touch with something beyond the immediate, physical world so strong?


Freedom Dinner

January 25, 2008

Tonight I had dinner with a number of volunteers who work with Sheila at Freedom Fellowship, a community church that is a ministry of Highland. During the dinner, I heard story after story from the volunteers about how – even though they felt inadequate to the task – their investment of time, money, and emotional energy has paid off in dividends that they would never have imagined.

For our family, the adjustment to the demands of community ministry has been unexpectedly challenging. I don’t think that Sheila or I imagined – a year ago when we were looking and praying for a ministry opportunity of this nature – the adjustments that would have to be made. Yet…it has been so worth it for us and for our family. Now, I cannot imagine what life was like before we began to form the relationships that we now enjoy.

Sheila, of course, does the street-level work. I’m involved only (well, mostly at least) as a support mechanism, providing resources, space, and encouragement for the people that are on the battlefront. Still, I consider it a privilege to be a part – even at a distance – of the work that she and other people are doing, day and night, within the community surrounding the modest, white building that was given to Highland a few years ago.


Avoiding Work

January 19, 2008

The thing that makes Dilbert so uncanny is Scott Adams’ ability to nail corporate reality dead-on.

My calendar for last Sunday (Jan 6) featured a cartoon in which Wally outlined his strategy for “success” (“success” for him being anything that minimizes work and accountability). Here are the things he did:

  • Gave a worthless response to people who weren’t specific about what they needed.
  • Didn’t attend a meeting because the location was never confirmed.
  • Gave bad advice because he was rushed.
  • Ignored email because he was told to focus on priorities.
  • Failed to turn in a report because the report format was never specified.

What is remarkable about this is that there are people – and you know it – who exist within office cultures with this exact mentality. Spend 70-80% of your workplace energy on shifting blame to others (or setting them up for a blame shift) and you can often avoid accountability and real work.

No wonder so many medium to large firms struggle with profit margins. Its inevitable that you’re going to pick up one or two Wallys along the way.


January Reading List

January 18, 2008

I’m finishing up Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church. As usual, I’m not always grooving with Dan theologically, but I still love this guy because of the way he is willing to move into and embrace people who are a part of the emerging culture. Also, I like the fact that there is a legitimate place in the emerging conversation for individuals like Dan, who – under the hood – tend to be more like conventional evangelicals.

Up next: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions. I’ve been meaning for some time to do some serious reading on other religions, and Kimball’s book has inspired me to do just that. (Yeah, yeah – I know – this is going to be pretty light reading, but I’m just not ready for a really heavy, academic-oriented comparative religions book…)

Also getting excited about doing an upcoming class series called Life(squared): Finding Meaning and Hope in the Resurrection of Jesus. A lot of it will be drawn from Jedi Master NT Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, which I’m going to have to dust off after its sat on the shelf for a few months.


Liveblogging – Dallas v New York

January 13, 2008

Well, folks: the ‘Boys are back in the playoffs as a favorite against the Giants today, and my plan is to post a few times during the course of the game. I’ve got the TV tuned to Fox and I’m streaming the Dallas broadcast on my notebook.

Hit refresh on this post as the day develops.

Have there ever been more angles on a Dallas playoff game?

1. Tony goes to Mexico to hang out with Jessica Simpson during the bye week – is he distracted?

2. TO’s ankle – is it better? is it not better?

3. Should Marion Barber be the starter? Looks like he will be.

4. Can the Cowboys break their late-season slump? (and why, by the way, is no one seemingly concerned with the Giants’ late season slump?)

My impression is that only one thing is going to matter: #2. Romo is not a distract-able guy, really, and Barber is the clear choice for your primary running back. As to a late season slump? I just don’t think there was much to play for in prior years, and now its all on the line. I think they’ll be ready.

_________

A lot of this game will depend on the tempo that is established early.

Two signs that it will be a long day for NY: (1) TO gets some early yards and energizes the game/crowd, (2) Marion Barber starts running loose in the secondary during the early game.

Two signs it will be a long day for Dallas: (1) Early crowd-silencing 3 and outs for Dallas, (2) an early/easy touchdown for New York.

_________

I wonder how many times Troy Aikman’s producer at Fox has told him to smile while he is on camera… Not that it matters. Aikman looks at the camera with the same blank expression he used when he was staring down safeties during the nineties. Still, he is a really good analyst.

________

Some observations after one quarter of play:

1. NY did a good job of setting the tempo with the Madden-esque “piddle.piddle. boom!” offensive strategy. This game will probably come down to whether Dallas can find a way to stuff the run without creating too many passing opportunities for Eli.

2. Jeff Feagles is a legend. They should start dusting off a corner on Canton for him right now.

3. I’m still not 100% that Barber is a better overall back than Julius Jones but… its a lot more fun watching Barber run, isn’t it?

________

The Cowboys radio team was talking like the TO touchdown at the start of the second quarter would be reversed on the grounds that he didn’t get two feet in bounds. I’m not sure what video they were watching – the video I saw clearly showed him take two steps before he stepped out.

________

My prediction for late first half/second half: With the  Giants trying to plug up the middle to stop Barber and doing everything they can to cover TO and Crayton, look for Whitten deep down the middle for some big plays.

________

Its halftime. This is a really bizarre game. Just when the Cowboys start looking like the 1st seed team on offense with a devastating 11 TD minute drive, their defense makes Ely look like a championship quarterback in an utterly pitiful two minute drill collapse.

The Cowboys are consistently rushing four. They’ve sacked Ely once and hurried him a few more times. I guess they’re satisfied they’ll eventually come out on top playing that way, but it seems a little too conservative to me.

________

Been watching the commercials more carefully today than usual. What is it with fast food chains and the need to do stupid kitsch? Is that the only thing the 18-25 male demographic is into these days?

Still waiting to see Whitten deep on a big play.

________

At the end of 3. This is unbelievable. The Boys put all of the things together that were in question, and they can’t create any separation in the score because of…

1. Stupid personal fouls

2. Abysmal kick coverage and 2 minute defense

If they lose this game, its going to be a long, depressing off season.

________

About 4 minutes left now after another looooong Dallas drive. Got my Whitten deep pass.

Just when I’m thinking Romo needs to learn to throw the ball away when he’s under pressure, he does that, and he gets a yellow hanky for his trouble.

________

Two minutes left. If Romo and company can’t drive and score a TD against a porous Giants secondary to finish this off, they don’t deserve to play in the Championship game.

_______

Well, folks. Dallas followed a very good early season with a very bad late season and concluded with a very average divisional game that let a very average Giants team sneak by them.

This is depressing.