Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quotes from Obama's Convention Speech

I honestly believe that tonight, August 28, 2008, will be seen as a night where Barack Obama really started to seal himself as the future President of the USA. His speech tonight was breathtaking, as I had chills run down my spine for half the speech and was riveted by his words of inspiration. Here are a couple of great quotes from the speech:

"The greatest risk in this election is to use the same old politics and the same old players but to expect different results." -- Barack Obama

"In this election, change is not going to come from Washington, but to Washington." -- Barack Obama

My Fantasy Football Team

Last night I participated in my 2nd ever fantasy football draft. I am in a league with a bunch of guys from Sioux Falls, SD, so I had to do the draft via speaker phone. I had a great time, though, and now can't wait for the season to start. I thought I would share my team with you all so you can help me in rooting them on.

Quarterback 1: Drew Brees (Saints)
Quarterback 2: David Garrard (Jaguars)
Running Back 1: Brian Westbrook (Eagles)
Running Back 2: Thomas Jones (Jets)
Running Back 3: Matt Forte (Bears)
Wide Receiver 1: Marques Colston (Saints)
Wide Receiver 2: Roy Williams (Lions)
Wide Receiver 3: Brandon Marshall (Broncos)
RB/WR: Jerricho Cotchery (Jets)
Tight End 1: Kellen Winslow (Browns)
Tight End 2: Heath Miller (Steelers)
Defense/Special Teams 1: Seattle Seahawks
Defense/Special Teams 2: Philadelphia Eagles
K 1: Mason Crosby (Packers)
K 2: Robbie Gould (Bears)

America's Stranglehold on Sports

If you continue to read, you will quickly realize that the title of this post is meant to be sarcastic criticism of America's superiority complex when it comes to most things, including athletics. Somewhere in the course of our mere 200-year existence (nothing in the scope of human history), our arrogant nation has come to the conclusion that we are THE world superpower and can enforce whatever regulations we want, can invade and control whatever country we please, and can generally do whatever the hell we want without much regard for the remainder of the human race. Obviously, I have issues with our arrogant, colonial, and totalitarian approach to global relations.

The most recent occurrence of this phenomena is in the world of women's golf. The LPGA has recently passed a rule that, beginning next year, all of it tour members must be proficient in the English language or face suspension. The LPGA has recently been invaded by a slew of incredibly talented foreign players, especially from the country of Korea. This new rule will drastically change their approach to the game and will no doubt rob them of precious practice time required to achieve professional ability, while they work on honing their linguistic skills instead.

I'm just not sure what the LPGA has to do with the English language. It's not the "American Ladies Professional Golf Association." It's golf. It's a global sport. And now we are punishing people and affecting their careers, their livelihoods, based on their country of origin. That ain't right!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dare to Dream

Over the past year or two I have started to come to grips with one of my worst flaws, my failure to dream. Over the course of my life I've the constantly been the one to stifle people's hopes and dreams with pragmatic thoughts like "how will that actually work?". I almost feel like I've gone through the 12 steps as I repent and struggle with my addiction to the status quo. It's been a long journey but I feel like I'm protruding through the darkness as I experience days where my dreams run wild with reckless abandon in a flurry of imagination.

A few weeks ago I was the typical husband as I waited impatiently outside Jo-Ann Fabrics for my wife to finish shopping. While I was waiting I walked across the street to watch a young boy repeatedly drop into a bowl of a skateboard park. The boy was probably 7 or 8, a mere 4' tall or so, and the bowl he was tackling was probably 10-12' tall. I couldn't get over how daring this young man was, but even more striking to me was how encouraging his parents were as they looked on. The boy would fall sometimes but always got right back up and tried again. But even as their son was endangering himself, the parents remained calm and seemed to keep encouraging him to take chances and keep trying.

I deeply desire to be a person who encourages the people around me (including my own future children) to be daring, to take risks, and to try things out of their comfort zones. I want to dream of a new way of living and I want to empower others to do the same. In the words of Shane Claiborne, I want to "dream big, live small, and love loudly."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Denouement [dey-noo-mahn]

In the book "To Be Told" mentioned in the previous post, Dan Allender spends much of the first section comparing our life's story to the elements found in any other story. He speaks of characters and plot and how in all good stories, shalom is shattered and their is a quest for redemption. These same elements present themselves in our own stories.

The final element he mentions is one called "denouement". This is a French term that refers to the point in a story when redemption occurs and peace is secured, if but for a brief moment. It's that time in the book or movie when the plot twists and brokenness of the story unfolds into understand and resolve. This is what Allender says about the denouement of our own story:

"Tragedy mars shalom, but denouement invites us to remember our innocence and dream of a day of even greater redemption. Denouement is an ending that serves as the prelude for a new beginning; there is always the next turn in the road. A new story begins the moment the old one ends. But a denouement is a respite that calls us to stop the journey for a brief interlude--to eat, drink, sing, dance, and tell our story to others."

Unfortunately we fail to celebrate well. We get so caught up in life that we fail to enjoy it. Rather than celebrating with our family at the end of a long day, we turn on the tv and watch fictional characters celebrate with each other in a fictional story.

The church has failed to celebrate as well. For a year or so I have been thinking that Sunday worship services should be more about celebration that anything, and this idea of denouement is enforcing that idea. After a long week of writing our own story, the church must come together for a brief respite to share with each other how God is writing each individual story and how we have co-authored the tale.

Good Quote from a Good Book

One of my text books for this fall is a book called "To Be Told" which was written by Dr. Dan Allender. Allender is the professor of the class and the president of the school. I have heard him speak before and was amazed, so I am incredibly excited about his lectures each day of class.

I began reading this book to get a jump start on the semester, and so far am really enjoying the read and think I will learn a lot. The premise of the book is that we all have stories worth telling, and are ourselves, a story written to the world to tell the story of the Author of life. Allender claims that we must learn to read our own stories so that we can become co-authors with God in writing the future of our stories.

Plan on hearing much more about this book and others as I progress through the seminary process. For now, here is a great quote that captured my heart as I continue to process the idea of dreaming:

"A dream without suffering is little more than a fantasy" (pg. 48).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Free to be Patriotic

I have to admit (go ahead and criticize me like Michelle Obama too) that I consistently struggle with patriotism. I find it hard to be proud of my country's accomplishments when most of those feats come at great expense to others around the world or to nature itself. We brag about freedom while oppressing others. We boast of financial success on the backs of underpaid and overworked overseas laborers. How can I be proud of this kind of country? How can I be proud of a country that most of the world views as a terrorist nation? I struggle.

Every four years, though, for a period of two weeks, these thoughts are pushed aside as I become a raving lunatic in support of the Stars and Stripes. The Olympics are a beautiful expression of world harmony and peace. For two weeks the world can come together under one roof and celebrate the hard work of each nation, competing with skill and agility rather than guns and bullets. I love it!

It feels so good to support my nation and I pray that the world would come to its senses (especially my own homeland) and start working for peace and justice in the world rather than domination and control. What would the world look like if it behaved the way it does for these 2 weeks during the other 206 weeks of the quadrennial?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What Is Sabbath?

This is a question that Mandy and I are wrestling with. We both have been raised to think that "spiritual" activities are the exercises that involve loading the family in the station wagon and heading over to the church building for prayer, Bible study, worship, a pot luck or some other "churchy" practice. We are expanding our definition.

Today, for the first time of many in the future, we attended church in the evening rather than in the morning. It was great to be able to spend the day in communion with each other and nature before communing with our church family tonight. We spent the normal church hours climbing at the rock climbing gym I work at and it was a beautifully, spiritual activity. After that we toured the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks where we watched the salmon make their way up the fish ladder to the other end of the lock.

Sabbath has always been about setting a day apart to spend with family, friends, and the Creator. We have always been people who filled our sabbath with a ton of activity though (especially while I worked at churches), so we are trying to change our ways to better appreciate God's gift of a day of rest. I'll let you know what we are doing to enjoy this special time of the week.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Great Weekend

It seems like I'm writing about a lot of personal stuff lately, but life is just so new and crazy and fun that I can't help but share it with those closest to me. We are REALLY loving Seattle and had a fantastic weekend!

On Friday after work we had dinner and then played tennis at this awesome park where you had to traverse down these switchbacks of trails to get to this little hidden court at the bottom. When we had tired we drove a few blocks up the hill to another park and watched a beautiful sunset over Puget Sound. amazing view, and right in our neighborhood.

On Saturday, Mandy and I headed down to Qwest Field to watch the annual Seattle Seahawks Scrimmage. We figure we might not be able to afford to go to any regular season games, so for $12 each we were able to see the team in action. What a blast. That night we headed down the hill to Seattle Center to watch "Juno" on a huge, jumbo screen in this outdoor amphitheater at the base of the Space Needle. We had so much fun and are planning to trek down there this coming Saturday to take in "Batman Begins."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Forced Conservation

I definitely don't want to be someone who is forced to care for God's creation, but I can say that I don't mind being required by Washington state law. Mandy and I needed to register our car in Washington following our move here recently, but prior to that registration, we needed to have an emissions test done on our car. I guess now that I think about it, I haven't noticed too many old, junker cars, spewing smoke and fumes into our fragile atmosphere, which is refreshing.

In addition to the mandatory emissions test, we have been glad to have our hand forced in the way of recycling. We had desired to be people who thought more about the environment, but it has been surprisingly easy due to Washington regulations. We end up recycling twice as much as we throw out.

I almost can't believe that I didn't live a more eco-friendly existence for the past 25 years. I claimed to worship the Creator, but didn't outwardly show much concern for the creation. I can't believe the church isn't leading the way in the effort to be 'green'. Why aren't church leaders at the forefront of these conversations? Why aren't followers of Christ spearheading movements toward alternative energy and fuel? How can we be people who take as active an interest in the creation as we do in the Creator?