Considering a Dishwasher

I can’t remember when we got our first dishwasher growing up. But I remember it was one of those portable ones so we didn’t have to remodel the kitchen. Those were fun. You rolled them over to the sink after dinner and connected it to the faucet to run it. Meanwhile there was the bulky dishwasher blocking well traveled portions of the kitchen.

For many years I didn’t think much about dishwashers. I lived in apartments or rented rooms in houses and a dishwasher was not my concern. How I wish we had one in the brownstone I lived in my final two years of college. My roommates were all engineers and often spent time in the library studying. Even then I hated studying in a library (when you have ADD, leave out the H please, they are not fun places to be. Besides, homework was so much more interesting watching the Celtics play in the height of the Bird years). So I would be home first and would inevitably be met with a sink full of dishes that needed to be cleaned before I could cook my dinner.

Both of my homes had “builders’ specials” when I bought them. I can’t remember the brand in FL, but CavWife and I nicknamed it “The Monsoon” because it was so loud we would have to pause the movie or recorded show at key points in the cycle. We nearly replaced it a number of times but kept thinking, “we might move soon.” We didn’t want to waste our money, and that doesn’t seem to be an “upgrade.” Have you ever checked how loud the dishwasher is when buying a house?

The GE we own now is much quieter even though it is a “builder special”. About 5 and 1/2 years old, it stopped drying the dishes sometime in the last year. You just lose track of these things. I could replace the heated dry elements, but I’m not that handy and could easily see myself with an aching back, hardened heart and cussin’ a blue streak like the father in A Christmas Story. Just not good with kids around.

CavWife has never been pleased with how it cleaned. Despite the fact we have soft water, there were stains in it too. There were some random comments about buying a new one, but nothing serious.

That all changed on Friday.

One of the jokes in our marriage is that I don’t put anything away, and she doesn’t close any doors. I’m seemingly always closing a door- closet doors, cabinet doors etc. She has gotten much better over the years. I’m not so sure I have.

I don’t remember her keeping the dishwasher door open in FL, but at some point it started happening. At some point I started getting annoyed. I recently started trying to keep the door closed. I particularly did this when her parents were visiting recently since I don’t want her mom to fall and break her hip. My comments and actions didn’t produce any change on her part. Perhaps I should have prayed. And fasted. Perhaps this problem only comes out by prayer and fasting.

Friday. I was preparing our lunch and moved to put something in the trash which was behind me to my right, right where the dishwasher is. Forgetting it was open (AGAIN), I snagged my ankle on it while backing up and lost my balance. Apparently I need one of these back up cameras on my posterior.

Falling I reached out to steady myself. Too far from the counter I could only grab the upper rack which buckled under my weight (too much Halloween candy?).

Trying to regain my footing I stepped down. On the open door. It was not meant to support a 190-200 pound man. I proceeded to land on the floor without my head slamming into the oven door. My lower back and butt absorbed most of the blow. My aging, bad lower back and hips. Stunned, I muttered the word Ralphie said that got his mouth washed with soap. Thankfully 3 of the 4 kids were upstairs resting, and the oldest may not have heard me.

I appear to have survived without any damage to my body aside from stiffness and soreness. I am wondering if she’s trying to kill me though.

The damage to the rack was not permanent. But the hinge is another story. The door now hyper-extends when open. It still works, but we aren’t sure how long it will.

Since it was Black Friday …. I decided to look for a special deals. I’ve never really thought about this though. All I know is that I want a quiet one.  A very quiet one.

There were a number of sales. We started to look at reviews. We decided we should look at the worst reviews. Some had a number of mechanical complaints. But there was also a strange trend: dishes don’t dry. Really, one star because the dishes aren’t dry as a bone. What is with people?

What we have discovered is that the “energy star” requirements have had two negative unintended consequences. First, since they use less water they don’t get the dishes as clean as before (another common complaint). This also results in longer cycle times. Second, they use lower wattage heating elements for the heat dry. The Energy Star standards are behind many of the non-mechanical complaints people have.

By Saturday night we hadn’t made an incredible amount of progress in narrowing down the field.

Two things happened on Sunday. First, one of our members told me her refrigerator died on Thanksgiving day. She went to a local store the next day and had her new one an hour after she bought it. That wasn’t as important as the fact they were having an anniversary sale. I’d been on their web site but they didn’t have any prices so I blew them off.

Second, another member’s son was in the ER so I went to pay a visit after worship. I had to drive right past that appliance store. So after my visit, I popped in for a quick check on prices. The salesmen showed me 3 he recommended based on my highest priority. A GE that had very few service calls. A Maytag that was the lowest priced of the three. And a Kitchen Aid that came with the house he bought. I got prices and went home to debrief with CavWife.

Before I could leave the parking lot she texted me. Thanks to Find a Friend she knew where I was and decided I should pick up a Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner. But her spying ways are another story.

Being an investigator’s daughter, she was on the case with the info. Soon she decided we should go back on Monday. In the meantime, I’m thinking about the new tires we need to buy. I wondered if we should wait to buy a new dishwasher until it did “give up the ghost” and started to leak. But this is a good time to buy due to the sales.

So there we are at the appliance store with 3 of the kids. 3 kids 9 and under. I instructed them on proper behavior before entering. “Look with your eyes, not your fingers.” “I need to think and make decisions, so don’t run around making lots of noise.” That kind of stuff. Why do I waste my time?

The salesman remembered my name and we looked at the three machines and quickly eliminated the Maytag. She seemed to prefer the Kitchen Aid. But there was another one next to it for about $20 more. I wondered, what is the difference? The salesman assured me it wasn’t the larger name plate on the front.

The difference was a third rack for knives, BBQ tools and other such things. It was removable for extra height when needed on the the second rack. Hmmm. I liked this feature. This may change things.

It was my decision, she said. I preferred the new one, but didn’t want to demand it. I didn’t want to pay the extra money, but …. (she’s now laughing at me). And it rates at 46 or 47 dba! Just a bit more (considerably more) than I wanted to spend. Merry Christmas to us! Happy Anniversary to us! (Happy Birthday to us?)

We survived the great dishwasher purchase of 2015. We are no longer dishwasher virgins. I hope to never buy one again.

We may move instead.

The Red Sox have only made one move so far this off season. That would be the trade for Padres and Braves closer Craig Kimbrell. He is exactly what they needed in the bull pen. He came “cheaper” than Chapman, in terms of players going in the other direction, and will belong to the Red Sox for more than one season (Chapman will be free agent after the 2016 season). He was pricey in that they lost 4 lower level prospects with tons of upside. Potential is not always realized, however. There have been plenty of prospects that don’t pan out like everyone hoped. This is not the dealing away of Jeff Bagwell for a rental who doesn’t even get you into the playoffs. But he didn’t cost them their best and most electrifying prospects: Moncada, Devers, and Benintendi. Or the guys read;y to make the jump to the big leagues: Owens, and Johnson.

The Kimbrell trade gives you an elite closer who throws high 90’s heat. The coveted power arm at the back end of the bullpen. This takes the pressure off of Koji, who has struggled with injuries the last 2 seasons and is 40 years old. Koji doesn’t need to close, and can provide protection as well as a dependable guy to pitch in the 8th. This creates bullpen depth they sorely lacked last year. Tazawa is pushed to the 7th.

This also means that Joe Kelly remains in the rotation. He showed great improvement after returning from the DL. If he can be THAT guy, the rotation will be much better and save the bullpen unlike last year. The lousy starts by Kelly and Porcello, and occasionally Miley, devastated the bullpen.

The main question is who will the Red Sox sign to be the ace. Finishing in last the previous 2 seasons sent a strong message to John Henry about the need for an ace ASAP. E Rod may be an ace one day. Maybe. Or he could be the 2nd coming of Felix Doubrant whom we thought would be the 2nd coming of Jon Lester by finally figuring a few things out so he could go deep in game. Nope. Felix was not in the majors last I knew. He just got worse.

Clay has ace caliber stuff, but can’t stay healthy. I pity the fool who relies on Buchholz Available aces tend to be older, unless you want to pay the king’s ransom for them. It worked for Pedro. But most young guys like Grey are not available, or their teams are greedy. A few are untouchable, only a few. But guys like Owens and Johnson and Shaw won’t get a trade done. Besides Shaw may end up playing first in 2017, and will back up the increasingly fragile Hanley Ramirez as he takes over first base (crossing fingers).

Dombrowski indicates that they will most likely get that #1 starter in free agency. This leaves us to consider Price, Cueto, Greinke and Jordan Zimmerman. These are the guys, and even Zimmerman is borderline as the #3 pitcher on the Nationals. He also had a lousy free agent year. Health, pressure, lack of confidence? I’m not sure I want to spend ace money on Zimmerman. Or give him ace responsibilities. With Porcello at $20 million they could quickly have an over-priced and under-performing rotation.

As Owens and Johnson develop and prove they can perform in the big leagues, they can force the Red Sox to trade Miley (he’s on a good contract and is probably the most tradable of Porcello, Kelly and Miley).

So, we are down to Price, Cueto and Greinke. The first 2 were traded during the season, so they were not eligible for qualifying offers. This means that only Greinke will cost them a draft pick. A 12th pick, kind of draft pick.

This is a high price. However, it may be worth paying. Greinke has dealt with his social anxiety issues. He is a thinking man’s pitcher. He is big on advanced analytics, and got Bannister, now a Red Sox employee, into them while they both pitched for Kansas City. The connection with Bannister may be important. Not being a a power pitcher may mean that Zach is able to dominate longer, much lack Maddox. He may be the best value over the life of the his contract. He has pitched in the AL, obviously, though it has been awhile. He has seemed to resolve his post season issues.

All the “experts” and GMs believe that the Red Sox will sign Price. Earlier they all though he’d head to the Cubs to be reunited with Maddon rather than pursue a reunion with Dombrowski. I’m sure he could play with Ortiz for a season, but I’m not sure he wants to play for Red Sox fans who have been a bit hard on him. While his post season record is pretty lousy, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t pitched well. His WHIP is slightly higher, which doesn’t quite explain the significantly higher ERA. Oh, the joys of a smaller sample size and the vagaries of post season play. He has pitched most of his career in the AL East when it was one of the best divisions in baseball. He can pitch in the division.

Price is more of a power pitcher, which means that unless he’s Nolan Ryan, he will not live up to the last years of what looks to be a huge contract. He is likely to be the guy John Henry fears or feared.

Cueto has that Luis Tiant odd delivery thing going for him. What he doesn’t seem to have going for him is a bum elbow. There are some serious questions about that elbow. He does seem to be a good leader, talking pitching with other starters on the bench during games. He’s the alpha dog type you want. He may be cheaper due to the question about the elbow. You could try the John Lackey maneuver with him- add a year at league minimum if he has surgery on that arm.

I am glad I’m not Dumbrowski, and I don’t have to make that choice, and live with the consequences.

Update: Zimmerman signed with the Tigers for about $22 million a year for 5 years.

The D’Backs are pushing hard for Cueto.

The NBA is back. The Celtics won their final pre-season game, and an ugly one at that, last night.

As I consider the upcoming season I have no idea what will happen. I was convinced last season they would end up with a lottery pick. A few changes around the trade deadline squashed my dream.

This season the changes aren’t about the rookies. I expect little to nothing out of the three rookies. They may spend plenty of time in Maine like Young did last season. They are largely for the future, or bench guys. Jordan Mickey may turn into an elite defender, or the second coming of Fab Melo. Rozier and Hunter will be good defenders on the perimeter.

The big questions surround the returning players, and new acquired players.

AveryBradley has gotten the memo about settling for the long 2 and stepping back to the 3. He’s apparently been watching Stephan Curry and doing the little dribble side-step to create space for his shot. This should help him take the next step, if he applies in during the season.

Marcus Smart has discovered that changing speeds is more effective than going full-speed ahead all the time. This may help him become a good point guard instead of just an elite perimeter defender.

Sullinger is rightfully still in the dog house. He has to prove he can play, night in and night out. This is why they now have Lee and Johnson. We will note that they were at their best with him sitting on the bench in a suit. It isn’t looking good for him right now.

Amir Johnson was not a name that impressed me. But he is a guy that may make the team better. He’s not a star, but does enough offensively to open shots for the smaller guys. And he can pass. Combined with Lee, they may actually have an inside game this year which will be a big improvement over last year.

Kelly Olynyk is the Celtics’ version of Kyle Arrington. It is all about confidence. When he has it- great. When he doesn’t- oy vey. This means a very talented guy who is inconsistent and therefore perpetually frustrating.

Sadly, the best part about the Celtics is Brad Stephens. He has done some great things with this team so far. He will continue to push spacing and passing. This has generally looked good in the pre-season, but that is the pre-season.

His other big challenge is managing Isaiah Thomas. Very talented scorer who wanted to start but was able to consider the good of the team over his own desires. Will he be the Randy Moss of 2007, or 2009? Will he continue to be about team and contribute that spark and scoring off the bend like Vinnie Microwave Johnson and Andrew Toney, or will he put self ahead of team and become a monstrous headache like Bad Randy?

Too many question marks with this team to really know how it will turn out. The good news is that they don’t need to get a lottery pick. They should get one courtesy of the Nets.


Considering My Radio Debut

One of our sister congregations, Rincon Mountain PCA, has a local radio show that airs on Sunday mornings. I usually catch part of Equipped to Engage on my way into the office.

The other day the Sr. Pastor asked if I was able to fill in for him, so to speak, while he’s on vacation. The day of the taping is Tuesday, and CavWife goes to BSF in the morning. When I asked her about it she said “we’ll make it happen.”

When the CavGirls learned about this before bed one night they were filled with glee. I’m not sure why. But it was fun to watch.

Ben is yucking it up like the Wookie

On Wednesday we (Phil was there to help, but Luke, Ben and I did most of the work) had our pre-production meeting. We spent about two hours preparing for the show. The show, 23 minutes long, is about the life of Joseph. And our goal was to point us to Christ thru Joseph so we had our work cut out for us.

We spent some time white boarding the story, and discussing the main points of Joseph’s life. We started working on the discussion outline with Googledocs.  Soon we thought we had enough material for the show. Or more than enough.

As a result, we did a walk through to see how we really were time-wise. I would say it was “semi-scripted”. There are a few sections that one person is supposed to handle, but the rest is informally shared.

We were close enough on time to know we just had to cut a little bit. It was when we were done that Ben said “when we have something we want to say, we do this” as he raised an index finger. “Oh, I saw you do that once at the end.” Takes time to get the flow of the thing.

They all know what they are doing, and I’m the “new guy”. They have their own system worked out and I just don’t want to mess it up. I don’t want to dominate, nor be invisible. That is a fine balance to discover.

Now we wait until Tuesday for another dry run and then head to the studio to record the show.

Fast-forward to Tuesday Morning, 3:30

I’m awakened by CavWife fumbling around to get her medicine because she forgot to take it out before she went to bed. Normally no big deal, but it got my brain started. So began 90 minutes of rolling back and forth in bed. I should have gotten up and read, but didn’t.

The view from my seat

Normally a little insomnia is not a big deal. But I’ve been fighting a cold. So … when I got up around 7:30 I was froggy voiced. Not exactly what you want the day you are recording a radio show.

I cooked our usual Tuesday morning breakfast and left just after 9 am so I was at Rincon Mountain at 10. I had a good view of the clouds coming over the mountains, surprised they weren’t dumping more rain on us.

After arriving at Rincon, Luke, Ben and I ran through the show once more. We changed a few things, and dumped some material. We were running pretty good for time. It was off to the studio.

I road with Ben since Luke had an appointment afterward. We talked about my book. While sitting in the lobby we talked about Luke’s former life as an accountant. Let’s just say …. he’s much happier.

A Star is Not Born

The recording itself was uneventful, aside from my voice going completely south for the first few minutes. Finally my throat stayed clear, and the engineer assured me she would get most of it out of the mix. Things went pretty well. During the break we talked about verbal ticks that need to be removed from recordings. The tech said I “have a good voice for story-telling.”

The most interesting part of the process is what you never hear. It is the silent battle in your heart between pride and humility. You want to say the funniest line, or the significant thought. You also want to honor the other guys and give them space to “look good”. You hope someone hears your great sounding voice (except for the stupid cold) and insightful opinions and offer you your own show. All this stuff and more is swirling around. No one wants to be Pete Rose, always butting in and coming off looking or sounding like a self-important buffoon, even if they obviously dress better than Pete.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to sit in. Hopefully I’ll be invited back some time, like when my book comes out. I had fun, and hopefully I did contribute something positive.

For those in Tucson, it airs this Sunday morning at 7 on 104.1 FM. I’ll try to put a link up when I can.

Update: Due to a station error, the show was not aired as scheduled. It will be aired on Nov. 8th.

Here is the podcast of the episode.

As I noted in part 1, I started this because a number of Christians seem to be responding to the recent shootings with questioning the 2nd Amendment and the place of guns among Christians.

In part 1 I focused on the inappropriate uses and purposes of guns in light of Scripture. This time I want to focus on the appropriate uses of guns in light of Scripture.

The gospel of Jesus presupposes the fallen character of the world and sinfulness of humanity. That has not changed since the Flood (see Genesis 6 in which humanity was prone toward increasing violence). We see this in John 3, which in addition to teaching about the love of God which resulted in sending the Son to save His people also teaches us that “the world” already stands condemned and rejects the Light because it loves darkness to cover its evil deeds.

This means we live surrounded by evil people. This has many applications that require wisdom for godly men and women. Let’s look at a few things.

In Genesis we see that Abraham’s nephew Lot was captured when some kings put down a rebellion that included the city in which Lot lived, Sodom (see Genesis 14). Did Abram (his name had not been changed yet) say “This must be the will of God, I hope Lot does well in his new life.”? Did Abram go and ask kindly for the kings to let him go?

No, Abram gathered his servants, and friends, and went to rescue Lot from the kings. This required weapons. Weapons can be used to defend the defenseless and rescue those victimized by evil men. This was righteous Abram who believed God, and tithed to God from the plunder he gained. Abram was acting in faith, not in unbelief in so doing. Abram was not a magistrate (ruler), policeman, soldier etc.

In Judges we see a pattern of Apostasy, Battering, Confession and Deliverance in the life of Israel after entering the Promised Land. The problems were caused by everyone “doing what was right in their own eyes”. And yet God delivered them by raising up men (and a woman) to deliver them.

Ehud and Eglon

Enter Ehud, for instance. Portions of Israel were under the control of Moab. They paid tribute to the king of Moab. Ehud assassinated Eglon when he delivered the tribute. Weapons may be used to overthrow an oppressive ruler (which is why oppressive governments have historically prohibited citizens to own weapons). This was the justification used (in light of Calvin’s doctrine of the lower magistrate) in the American Revolution. It was not simply citizens, but the Continental Congress as the lesser magistrate had a right to rebel against a corrupt king. It required an armed populace to do so. This is why the 2nd Amendment was added, precisely because the founding father’s feared that one day the government they found could become oppressive. They were rooted in their Judeo-Christian heritage, expressed by the actions of Ehud and Calvin’s doctrine, in formulating it. Guns can be used to overthrow an unjust government, not simply by crazed independent militia, but by a lesser magistrate (state, county or city government) that has the right and responsibilities to protect its citizens from the unjust ruler. Those citizens would need to participate in that process since that magistrate has fewer citizens than the whole country.

This may be why David did not actively work to overthrow Saul. David was not a lower magistrate and had no right to overthrow Saul. He waited for God to fulfill His promise that David would be king. David and his men did defend themselves, which required weapons. Surely Saul was frustrated that David and his men had weapons.

Samson Defeating the Philistines

Samson Defeating the Philistines

Later in Judges, we see Samson whom God used to provoke the Philistines and eventually bring judgment upon them. Samson did not lead an army, but was endowed with supernatural strength. On one occasion he used the jaw bone of an ass as a weapon to slay 1,000 men. That sounds like a mass shooting, but it was against wicked men. He had the right to defend himself against wicked men. And so do we. This would mean, I believe, that Christians can own guns for self-defense. This would be implied in Jesus’ instruction to his disciples in Luke 22 to buy a sword. This would be akin to Jesus telling his disciples today to buy a gun. There is no non-violent use of a sword. This is also behind the rationale of the 2nd Amendment which makes it consistent with Scripture.

In fact, in Exodus 22 we see that if someone enters your home by night he or she may be slain without guilt and consequence. By day as another matter. At night there is no one to help you. If caught during the day, the thief is required to pay restitution. By night, the use of a weapon would be permissible. People should be able to defend their families from intruders, particularly at night, with guns.

If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. Exodus 22

These are historical accounts from which I am drawing inferences. Some may question those inferences. To support my inferences, let’s talk about sanctification. The gospel includes the reality that we are being conformed to the likeness (morally) of Christ. He wants to make us more like He is. He is restoring His image in us.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4

On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3

Sanctification, a work of God’s free grace, involves a putting off and a putting on. This is called mortification and vivification. We turn away from worldly attitudes and sin such as malice, rage, bitterness etc. which result in the sinful use of guns I mentioned in part 1.

We are also to put on godly mindsets, and actions. If we study the character of God we see that He is the defender of the defenseless. For instance, He cares for widows and orphans. He also delivers the oppressed and exploited. We are also are supposed to care for widows and orphans. In fact, we are often His means to care for them rather than dropping money from the sky. Similarly we are to deliver the oppressed and exploited. There are times when we can use the legal process to do so. But there are other times when we may need to act immediately.

For instance, imagine you are near a gun-free zone and hear gunshots. Yes, you should call 911. But until the police arrive the gunman may be able to shoot dozens of people. Should a godly person just shrug their shoulders (and pray), or could one act to defend those at the mercy of an evil person brandishing a weapon? It is not contrary to the gospel to use a weapon to stop such an evil person. Godliness is not to sit idly by while your wife is raped, or children threatened. The use of force, including guns, would be permitted. As we see in Scripture, God often defended His helpless people through the use of force (see the Exodus, the slaughter of the Assyrian army and more). It is not ungodly, but rather godly, to use force to protect those under your care, and innocent bystanders, from wicked people seeking to commit “death-sentence” sins like murder and rape. The exception I would mention is persecution- when people are trying to kill you for being a Christian. That opens another can of worms I will not address here.

So, I think we find that “turn the other cheek” is only part of the answer to the question of guns and the gospel. There are other biblical ideas we need to incorporate to get a fuller answer to the question. Christians are free to decide for themselves if they want to own a gun or not. If they do own a gun they are bound by the limitations we’ve discussed. It can not be used for sinful reasons, or to further our own sin. It can be used to defend yourself, and your loved ones, and the defenseless from evil doers. Guns can also be used in a legitimate revolution or to stop an oppressive and evil magistrate in certain situations.

As a result of a biblical theology and historical theology, I would say that the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is consistent with the rights of godly people in the Scriptures. It is, in no way, contrary to the gospel. It would be sinful uses of weapons that would be contrary to the gospel.

Just for fun read about the Harvard Study that shows are negative correlation between guns and violence.

The recent tragedies, or perhaps seemingly endless series of gun tragedies, have caused many to re-consider their own view on guns. I ran across a statement that the Bible has no “theology of guns” and therefore we should be willing to view the 2nd Amendment as contrary to Scripture.

I think it bears some examination. Obviously guns aren’t in the Scriptures, but weapons certainly are. This country has a long history of gun ownership, and responsible gun ownership. These kinds of shootings, not associated with mob wars, are new.

Before we get to weapons themselves, let us consider some of the cultural shifts that may be at work in this horrible trend. The most fundamental is a shift away from a Judeo-Christian worldview. While American has never been a Christian nation, it has been dominated by the Judeo-Christian (monotheistic and moralistic) worldview as a form of civil religion. As the gospel has departed from the cultural consciousness we see the wrath of God revealed as we see in Romans 1. Often we focus on the sexual immorality, but there is also a great increase in violence as the culture, and its members begin to devalue life. We see this in abortion, domestic violence, school violence, gang life, euthanasia and more.  This leads to the breakdown of the family, and studies indicate that sons without fathers are far more likely to struggle in many ways, including a tendency toward violence.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Romans 1

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

This only makes sense when we think of life after Eden. We see that the world in rebellion to God was full of violence beginning with Cain killing his brother Abel. Abel’s great “sin” against Cain? It was actually about God because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s. Pride and envy gave birth to bitterness and then hatred which resulted in Cain picking up a rock to kill his brother.

Notice God’s response. Before he did it, God confronted Cain and called him to rule over sin before sin ruled over him. Cain was mastered by sin instead. God had a measure of mercy on Cain by not having him put to death. A mark was placed on him so others wouldn’t kill him either. (As we will see in part 2, this changes after the flood.) God did not blame the rock, institute rock-free zones or rock (or whatever he used) control. The issue was not rocks but the human heart.

This cycle of violence continued with Lamech. He is the forefather of the gang mentality we often see among our disillusioned, despairing youth even if they are not in gangs.

23 Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
    then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”Genesis 4

We notice here a corruption of sex and marriage as well in that he spoke to his wives. A polygamist, he perverted justice. His wounding lead him to kill another man. He then boasted about it. His “punishment” exceeded the sin committed against him (giving Lamech the benefit of the doubt).

We see here, and in the OT law, that punishments are not to exceed the crime. The “eye for an eye” code puts limits on justice. We are not to kill people for insulting us, stealing from us (except in one instance I will mention in part 2) etc.

To make an epochal adjustment, we see that we should not use guns (or any other weapon or tool used as a weapon) to commit crimes, or to retaliate against those who harm us. The problem is not the tool we use, but rather the wicked design of the person who wields it.

In the NT we see this taught in a few places. Most famously in the Sermon on the Mount.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matthew 5

We see that Jesus refers to the law of talonic justice. For a personal insult (the slap) we are not to retaliate in like kind and especially not in an excessive manner (like shooting or stabbing them). The gospel helps us to forgive them instead of seeking retribution. We should rather be wronged than wrong the other person in response.

This doesn’t mean we don’t care about or want justice. It means we entrust justice into God’s hands instead of our own.

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12

We remember that God is just, and He has promised to make all things right. That may be in the death of His Son, or in judgment on the Last Day. But God will deal with it. It may also be through the state as Paul noted in Romans 13.

 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Romans 13

Death Wish 3

If you are a person prone to anger, or seeking retaliation, you should not own a weapon because you will be particularly tempted to use it for unjust and wicked purposes. It is not intended to be used to right the wrongs perpetrated against you.

Does this mean that a Christian shouldn’t own a weapon (unless he or she is in the military or law enforcement)? No.

We have this statement by Jesus as he prepares the send the disciples out. Previously they were to go with nothing. Now they were to bring particular items.

36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. Luke 22

He wanted the disciples to buy a sword! Surely, therefore, it is not sinful to own and therefore use one. The issue is for what reason. We have seen the wrong reasons to use one: murder, retaliation and would include to rob others or otherwise sin against them.

Last again.

That is one way of looking at it. But not necessarily the best way.

Unfortunately they played too well at the end and no longer have a protected 1st pick (which last year netted them Andrew Benintendi, an outfielder with power who adjusted to the minors very quickly and was promoted). Hopefully they can get another building block for the future, unless they sign a free agent who got a qualifying offer.


2015 was really a tale of two seasons. The first season got them into last place and cost their pitching coach his job. The hitters struggled in the first month or so. Hanley was HOT in the first month (he and Dustin were the only ones), but then got hurt and pretty much stunk offensively the rest of his shortened year. While Betts, Bogaerts and Ortiz started to hit, Nava, Napoli, Panda etc. did not. Victorino was barely in there as he struggled with injuries again.

And there was the pitching which was horrendous. Short outings, big innings, overworked bullpen. Dumpster fire was it, Yoda would say. There was a reason the coach lost his job. The only bright spots were Clay and Koji.

The outfield defense was hit or miss. Betts did an excellent job. Hanley was horrendous- the worst left fielder they Red Sox have ever had. Epic kind of bad. This did not help the pitchers, at all. It also cost them a few games with costly errors.

Lots of people were wondering how long Farrell would have his job.

Then a few things changed.

  1. They cleared space for young players to come up by trading Napoli, Nava and Victorino.
  2. Turnover in the front office. Dombrowski was hired to head up baseball operations, Ben decided to leave too. This gave a fresh set of eyes and no loyalties to the situation
  3. Farrell had surgery during which they discovered cancer which meant he was done for the season.
  4. Hanley was essentially benched which allowed them to establish 3 guys in the line up just about every day.

A Feel-Good Second Half

This meant that JBJ and Castillo were able to establish some continuity which helped JBJ have a scorching hot August providing a glimmer of hope that he has turned that corner offensively. Castillo got his defense sorted out and hit better than in his yo-yo stints earlier in the year. Even more importantly, they got incredible defense in the outfield for the rest of the season.

Travis Shaw did his best Mike Napoli from earlier seasons impression hitting over .270 and launching 13 over the wall. Finally offense from the first baseman.

The rest of the offense also came together and Chili Davis kept his job. They were the 3rd best offense. Not quite what we’d hoped but after such a slow start they showed what we hope happens in the future. Xander, who also improved his defense, upped his average significantly to hit over .320. Now, he just needs to hit for power. Betts’ average continued to climb through the second half of the season and is becoming the player we thought he would. Swihart made steady improvement as well.

The pitching got better despite Clay’s latest injury. Porcello and Kelly had their “come to Jesus” moments and pitched significantly better after trips to the minor to fix “injuries”. FA returnee Rich Hill was amazing in 4 starts. Before a concussion ended his season Wright was doing very well with his knuckleball.

They were one of the better teams in the last 2+ months of the season, nearly getting out of the basement of the AL East.

The Damage

Fans want the big FA signings G-O-N-E. Panda ballooned up and struggled with conditioning and heat. Hitting under .250 didn’t help his cause. He wasn’t signed for the regular season, but first you have to make the playoffs so Panda power can happen. I don’t know if they can trade him at this point. But he needs to drop lots of weight, and keep it off.

They told Hanley to drop 15-20 pounds too. He needs to move a little quicker if he’s going to play first base. But is he a cancer in the clubhouse? He can hit but will it be worth it?

He Took the Money and Stayed

Arnie Beyler was the only coaching staff casualty when they did not renew his contract. There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason. He helped Mookie and Brock adjust to the outfield. He helped Castillo learn the wall in left. He seemed to be doing good work, overall. What he couldn’t do in 2014 was get Cespedes to prepare to play in right. That would be Cespedes fault for being inflexible. What he couldn’t do in 2015 was motivate Hanley to learn how to play left field. Once again the onus is on the player. It is hard for a coach making a few hundred thousand to make a millionaire do anything. It has to come from within.

Luvollo was encouraged to stay on as bench coach instead of looking for a manager position with another team following his successful time as interim in Farrell’s place. Perhaps he is their insurance policy should Farrell not recuperate, or the team falter out of the gate yet again.

Moving Forward

The Red Sox have a solid young core in Xander, Mookie and Blake to complement Ortiz and Pedroia. Swihart may pick up his first baseman’s mitt again just in case Christian Vasquez is ready to return. He is the better catcher and Blake’s bat is a welcome addition to the line up.

The Sox can probably afford to play JBJ in center even if August was the aberration. If he can hit .250 or better all should be good in light of the fact that he is probably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. Therefore the outfield is set moving into 2016. Betts and Castillo should provide sufficient offense, particularly when compared to the debacle of 2014 in that regard.

The real question, offensively, is the corner positions: first and third. The questions are many. Can Panda actually lose weight? Can he stop his late night snacking? Can he return to switch hitting? All he has to give us is about .270 and solid defense. Is that too much to ask?

Who will play first, Ramirez or Shaw? If they don’t trade Hanley, they will probably keep Shaw on speed dial for when Hanley’s inevitable injury or injuries occur. But is Shaw for real or is this Will MIddlebrooks Part 2? Shaw can play both first and third so perhaps he stays in Boston as the utility infielder with Holt who can play everything but catcher.

The other great, big question is the pitching. It looks like the Sox will pick up Clay’s option. With him there is the inevitable injury. There is also the uncertain as to which Clay will show up: Cy Young contender if he stays healthy Clay or boy are we glad he got hurt because he was killing us Clay? Which Kelly and Porcello will show up? Will they get a top of the line starter (tough if they hang on to Panda and Hanley)? Dombrowski is a good talent evaluator and has shown a knack for trading guys you think may be tough to trade (Prince Fielder) and get guys who become great (Cabrera and Scherzer). It will be interesting to see what Dombrowski will do. But it is unlikely he brings back Rich Hill. I’d only do that on an incentive-laden contract. But Rich wants guaranteed money.

Will this be the first time Dombrowski builds a bullpen? Or will he let Hazen or Wren do that heavy lifting because a man’s got to know his limitations? They have a few good pieces in Tazawa (who was great until they overworked him due to a lousy rotation and Farrell’s habit of warming him up and not putting him in) and Koji. Both had short seasons and should be ready to play next year. Maybe Matt Barnes puts it together and finds a home there. Lots of questions here

This will be an offseason filled with questions. I have no answers, but will have to sit back like everyone else and see what happens.


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