Thursday, April 05, 2007


last night, while sitting on the couch watching friday night lights, i confessed to brooke that i haven't had a very holy lent. for the most part i've kept my fast and i've even spent a little more time in prayer, but in general this has not been a season filled with the honest personal assessments and extended periods of reflection that, for me at least, befit this season of repentance.

instead it has been a season of anxiously awaiting preston's birth, scrambling to adjust to the interpersonal demands and intermittent political struggles that often characterize my work and learning to invest more fully in my beautiful, pixie of a wife and growing family.

thus, to a very real degree, i do not think that i have extended much effort towards communing and incarnating Christ throughout the past forty days. and yet, and yet, in the midst of a conversation with becky this morning i realized that regardless of my efforts God is in the process of reconnecting me with my own blood by giving me a son, winding the paths of a couple of beloved old friends back towards beverly and investing heavily in the beauty, truth and goodness of our community by bringing miss aubuchon into our midst.

as with jacob before me, even in the midst of my apathy and open rebellion, God continues to give good gifts. i suppose that by this point i shouldn't be surprised by God's grace, but i am. moreover, i have a sneaking suspicion that my forty days of failure have led me towards the heart of a truly holy lent.

i am so thankful.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

a feeble request...

if you find yourself channel surfing on wednesday nights, please tune in to NBC and turn on to friday night lights. failing that, you can catch up with this amazing series by watching every episode online for free.

listen, i'll be the first to admit that FNL is not a perfect show. occasionally the plot drivers are inane,* the writers constantly underestimate the way that faith shapes the culture of small southern towns and, as drunken bee over at has noted on a number of occasions, the portrayal of teen life is a tad bit idealized.**

however, the show consistently portrays the beauty and promise that suckers even cynics such as myself into interpersonal relationships, while never flinching from the conflicts and complications that never cease to ensnare. in addition, i think that nbc has done a grave disservice to the show by marketing it as a sports drama when most of the compelling characters are women such as the coach's wife, who is played to perfection by tami britton, and the hub of the show is the family life of the taylor's, not the panthers pursuit of the texas state football title. i'm amazed that the legions of folks who bitch and moan about the dearth of family friendly t.v. are constantly tuning in to narcissistic, meaningless drivel like american idol while excellent, critically acclaimed shows like FNL are ignored into extinction.

i know that i've beat the FNL drum in this space before, but i'm still convinced that if enough you take a moment to listen to the tune you will eventually fall in line.

on a wholly unrelated note: the cardinals are in the process of getting curbed by the mets again. while i can't say that i like losing, i must admit that i'm surprised that the MVP3 core of rolen, edmonds and pujols carried the team this far.*** after 2004 i predicted that the team had taken its best shot and was on the road to rebuilding. who knew that after 2004 the team had one very good season and one unexpectedly magical season left in them? so be it.

* like last week's tragic train wreck that resulted in the football field of dreams.
** i.e., the students are a little too good looking and they party to the sounds of tragically hip indie pop instead of the steve miller band.
*** and by this far i mean the 2006 world series championship. still can't get over that one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

memorandum from captain random

i should be finishing the audacity of hope or journaling my dreams for my soon-to-be born son or something, but i’m watching baseball instead. so, in lieu of watching commercials, i’m going to share random shit with you for the next couple of hours. aren’t you the golden child?

joe buck just openly stated that david wright is becoming the “poster boy of new york baseball.” hmmm, i wonder why…let’s see, there are two much better latino players on his team, a superior latino and african-american on the yankees, hmmm, why is it that david is garnishing all those covers right now???

chris carpenter is missing his next start with an inflamed elbow. i think i just threw up in my mouth.

i'm glad that the cardinals just his into their fifth double play in eleven innings, because it gives me more time to blog. speaking of which, lately i've found myself longing for the holy rhythms of liturgy. the older i get, the more beauty i find in the way that lent deepens my experience not only of the resurrection, but also of spring, and i could say the same thing about advent. it seems to me that if we do not choose to let the seasons of the church shape our experience of worship, then other, likely less inspired impetuses, such as our individual creativity or rick warren's most recent book, will shape our worship instead. i grew up in churches that pulled out all the stops for the fourth of july, mothers day, fathers day and even grandparents day, but never spoke a word of ash wednesday, pentecost or maundy thursday. from my perspective, shooting red, white and blue streamers out of a celebration canon on the fourth of july, but ignoring lent altogether is, uh, pretty stupid.

why can't i get these damn blogger fonts to work?! insert curses and invectives here: .

ok, i'll admit it. i think the cardinals are either going to win the division or secure fourth place. if they can find a way to do the latter - and, believe me, i've learned not to doubt walt jocketty, et al too much - that'll be great. and if they can't...oh well, we won the 2006 world series and this aging team has had a hell of a run.

in the midst of the tiny delay before baby preston arrives, kellie has cooked our books and we've considered the costs of daycare. so, i guess what i'm trying to say is, i really need a part-time job that pays relatively well. if you're interested in hiring me for 10-15 hours a week or know someone who is, let me know. if not, no worries! i've heard that there are a couple of massage parlors down by logan that are hiring.

if you haven't seen the south park wheel of fortune episode - which is a send up of the whole michael richards at the laugh factory event - then you probably shouldn't watch it. that clip is really, really offensive.

rolen just got picked off. way to go, hoosier! at least you didn't barrel into delgado and re-injure your shoulder.

brad lidge gave up a solo shot to ruin oswalt's start on opening day? shocker. that guy is about fifteen blown starts away from going mark wholers on the astros.

outfield defense. anyone? anyone?

joe buck, verbatim: "spezio is one of the better hitters this team has to offer." houston, we have a problem.

ok, i'm even boring myself. hopefully when you hear from me next, i'll be a father. here's to hope...and naming children after britney's baby.

Monday, April 02, 2007

five minute book review

over the past couple of weeks i have been overwhelmed by both the power of Jesus' teaching "not to judge, lest you be judged with the same measure" and my apparent inability to live without making snap, often vicious, judgments of others. my sensitivity to such judgments was part of the reason i posted that indefensible brief piece about tony la russa last week. like keith law said on espn insider,* drunk driving is a much more dangerous and life threatening mistake than pumping up anabolic steroids. thousands of people whose lives, including my own, have been impacted by drunk driving can attest that driving after you've had too much, even if that means sipping three glasses of wine instead of two, is not only a personal mistake but a wholly indefensible anti-social act. so the point of that post was to poke fun of myself for my irrational judgments and try to walk a mile in a bonds' supporters shoes.

anyway, i cannot talk my bent towards irrational and spiteful judgments without briefly referencing the deep prejudice i have lately harbored towards those who support the gop. seven years ago, i was incredibly ambivalent about the election of george w. bush and even found myself thankful for his apparent leadership after 9/11. however, after an apparently poorly executed war in afghanistan, an unnecessary war against iraq and six years of fiscally irresponsible and ethically challenged governance by the gop, i have begun to assume that all republicans are bellicose, neo-con, rampant individualists who care little about the collective good and are much more concerned with joey shacking up with donny than they are about responsible fiscal policy and discerning international policy. in fact, over the past couple of years i grew so weary of bush, his neo-con handlers and the reagan republicans that i even voted for john kerry, which, i must admit, was not something i really wanted to do.

i mention my rancor not to stir partisan debate,** but to confess that my tendency to paint all republicans with the same brush is air-tight evidence of my foolishness. i've never been more convicted of my foolishness than i was after i finished devouring crunchy cons by rod dreher.*** in rod's wonderful, progressive-republican manifesto he constantly challenges the moral libertarianism of the left, the free-trade at all costs, sit back and trust the market economic libertarianism of the right and, most importantly, calls the readers to actively subvert the mindless consumerism and meaningless relativism of our culture by thoughtfully conserving the elements of our personal, political and communal lives that are most beautiful good and true. if i could make every democrat and republican i know read this powerful little tome, i would. though i do not agree with dreher on every point (i.e., i wonder whether it makes much sense in the current environment to support an administration which superficially supports many of my ethical stances while actively attempting to unravel the mores and folkways of foreign nations; and i'm not convinced that well-intentioned educational separatism is the best way to approach our children's education) by the time i closed the book i was convinced that i had much, much more in common with crunchy conservatives than i do with many liberal democrats.

i've already gone past my five minute limit, but should probably note that dreher not only utilizes his pages to carefully explain how crunchy conservatives approach topics such as consumerism, food, education and the environment, but he also tells story after story of crunchy conservatives who are raising excellent organic meat,**** building a persuasive case for animal rights and developing family lives that are focused on blessing the world instead of cursing it. here are a few quotes from the book to whet your appetite.

"the first idol crunchy cons have to smash is efficiency, the guiding principle of free markets, but an unreliable guide to building institutions that serve human nature and human community. we have to start living by our ideals, judging things not by what works most efficiently, but by what's good, what's true, what's beautiful - in other words, what's right" (ibid., 229)

"crunchy conservatism is a way of life that calls for a change of culture. it's about returning to tradition, in the face of rampant and energetic consumerism, to reclaim a way of life that's richer, more satisfying, more grounded, more sustainable, more meaningful and, in the end, more authentically joyful than what mainstream american life offers" (238)

"when we had matthew, we moved to a slightly bigger place in brooklyn, but a year or two later, when matthew became mobile, our cozy cobble hill apartment seemed awfully crowded. thus did the dream of home ownership take deeper hold of our imaginations.
(i know, i sound like a commercial for a mortgage broker, but if you're like me, you'll find as you grow older a strange new respect for the middle-class cliches you spent your smart-ass youth making fun of. knife. fork. crow" (97-98).

okay, i've gone on for waaay more than five minutes. but i hope you read this book. i believe that crunchy cons focuses more on what binds us together than the ideologies than rend us apart. for that reason, i think it's a wonderful companion to barak obama's the audacity of hope.

* a pay only site that i loathe and yet cannot seem to separate myself from.
** which i will not participate in after i post this steaming piece of shit.
*** many thanks to rick for the recommendation.
**** oh how i wish i could frequent texas supernatural meats!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

do you love me?

this morning, as i lazed in bed beside my beautiful pixie like wife and awaited the birth of our first child, i spoke of the things i love in relation to my love for the saint louis cardinals. since the cardinals open their defense of their 10th world series championship this evening, i thought i'd let you in on our conversation.

the gold standard for this conversation is the cardinals winning their 11th world series championship. everything else in my life is arranged in relation to how important that one event is. i.e., if dizzy is ranked at +11, that means i love her 11% more than the cardinals winning their next championship. conversely, if finishing seminary at gordon-conwell theological seminary ranks at -30, that means i value my seminary education 30% less than the cardinals. got it? if the concept is still a little hazy in your mind, feel free to drop a comment asking me to rank the importance of a public figure, a book, movie, ideology or any thing else that relates to my life. i think that my response will give you a clearer glimpse of the complete picture.*

pixie: +20.2**
papa: +20.1
preston: +15
james and brooke: +11.1
dizzy dean: +11
sinners and saints christian community: +11
saint francis: +3
personal literacy: +1.4
world peace: push
orgasm: push
the gold standard: the cardinals win! the cardinals win! their 11th world series championship!
orgasm: push
world peace: push
the beverly public library: -1.2
kevin smith flicks: -2
friday night lights: -2.3
harry potter and the deathly hallows: -2.5
the emergent conversation: -3
sinners and saints' fourth annual wild at heart weekend: -4
coffee: - 15
coffee at michelle's diner: -21
obstetricians: -37***

* which, for the record, is not a schooner. you dumb bastard.
** there was some deliberation over whether pixie was 20.1 and papa was 20.2 or the final ranking that you see above. but, since the pixie is sitting right here and she has a number of wily skills at her disposal she won out.
*** fyi: they hate women.