Archive for December, 2006

Floored by the Flu

The CavFamily has been suffering the ravages of a stomach flu.  It has hit us sequentially, which is far better than simultaneously.  I’ll be back in a day or two.

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While on vacation I began reading Walk On: the Spiritual Journey of U2.  In talking about Dublin at the time, it created a missional attitude that would mark their music throughout their career (thus far- 25 years and counting).

They grew up in a place where it was radical to be a Christian.  They viewed this a the ultimate rebelliousness- living by faith- while others played around with sex & drugs.  There was no Christian ghetto to suck them in to the idea of catering to a Christian audience, playing churches and being predictable.  Once there, a band has a hard time getting out (think of Michael Corleone’s angst at being sucked back into the mafia life each time he tries to break free).  Switchfoot is one of the few bands able to do this, and maintain integrity (others did it, but became so disillusioned and rebellious in the process that one wonders if they left more than the Christian ghetto).

Rather, they were lived the Pauline Principle of 1 Corinthians 9 without anyone really telling them to.  They contextualized their faith, which may be why many evangelicals in America (who don’t get the whole contextualization thing) have been quite skeptical of the faith held by Bono, the Edge & Larry.

Steve Stockman calls this a “skillful disguise” which would be a trademark of their work.  In this way they adapted musical styles, and subverted the world views of those around them (for instance the Zoo TV and Pop Mart tours).

While I don’t agree with all of the positions Bono takes on some issues of social justice, he is living how Christians are supposed to live in culture.  Like all of us, they will wrestle with temptations and failings.  But they don’t live like they are from another time or place.  They live out their faith in the context of the world around them.

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Tim Stafford wisely avoids the issue of justification in this interview.  This makes for a less controversial, and more accessible interview.  The impetus seems to be his new book, Simply Christian.  This book is something of a Mere Christianity for our time.  Where Lewis wrote to communicate with Moderns, Wright writes to communicate with Postmoderns.

This leads to an interesting discussion of the appeal of Gnosticism, and the way in which we have tried to tame Jesus and the implications of the Gospel (something I can agree with NT on).  We turned a faith that turned the ancient world upside-down into a status quo, boring faith.  Gone is the faith that inspired martyrs to face certain death from Roman authorities (and in some place in the world still does inspire martyrs).

But in the West, Christianity has been seduced into becoming a more nominal, uninspiring sort of thing. On the Right, he points to the idols of War & Money.  I’m not so sure I agree on the first one.  I don’t think Conservative Christians are war mongers.  But we have been seduced by money and power.  To maintain them, we lose the focus on sacrifice and personal holiness for the sake of mission the New Testament clearly teaches.  One the left is, according to Wright, love/sex.  I think this idol crosses all lines, and is not the sole or primary problem of Liberals or Liberal Christianity.  Just as many Liberal Christians are also consumed by money and power.

“Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world.  And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you.  You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work.”

Yes, we evangelicals focus so much on ‘heaven’ we neglect the reality of the kingdom that is present and seeks to transform cultures through the gospel (not law or politics).  We neglect the fact that God is up to something awesome as He continues to apply the work of Jesus to people in this world, and uses believers to do it.  We have so privatized and individualized faith that our faith is not a danger to anyone, including ourselves.

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I finished Seth Mnookin’s Feeding the Monster.  As a Red Sox fan, I found it a fascinating behind the scenes look into how the team was run.  The book starts with a brief history of the Red Sox, and their futility.  He dispells some common misconceptions.  He moves into how Henry and Werner ended up purchasing the team.

The main focus is on how they built the 2004 World Series championship team.  And then how success nearly undid them.

This was the disappointing side of the book.  Mnookin unbares the unsavory side of things many fans would rather not know.  I don’t criticize him for this- I just share my disappointment in some people I thought had more character- only to find they are normal humans who struggle with their tongues, contentment and everything else most of us find too powerful to tame. 

The section on Damon’s contract reveals how Boras misled the Red Sox, and probably turned Damon against staying in Boston.  If open communication had occurred- Boston was willing to offer another $500,000/year, which Damon would have accepted.  But they were led to believe the mystery offer was so much more that making the offer was useless.  They never had a chance to respond to the Yankees offer.  Imagine them with Damon leading off, with Andy Marte ready to take over 3rd base.  (Not to mention the other trades made by Lucchiano to distract people from the Theo mess).

One thing that stands out is how success breeds a sense of entitlement (Robert Kraft tried to warn John Henry).  Players became more demanding after beating the Yankees and winning the World Series.  “We” was replaced with “me”.  This was one of the reasons some of those players were not resigned at the end of their contracts.  But there were guys who seemed unchanged by it all- like Schilling, Papi & Varitek.

Be warned… there is plenty of ‘colorful’ language, since Mnookin uses direct quotes.  But this an enjoyable read, and an informative one.  One request, I hope they let Seth write about the Dice-K pursuit. 

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Another Division Title

Got to watch most of the Patriots-Jags game today despite the fact the Bucs were on.  Funny how that happens.  This was the kind of win we needed- on the road against a good team (that beats good teams).  I had to sweat it out- just like the Super Bowl seasons.  But I don’t think they’ll be able to get that far.  Of course the Colts are imploding.  But the Chargers seem to be the team to beat in the AFC.

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The Patriots are on their 3rd punter of the season, since the other 2 are on the IR list.  Warren & Watson are injured.  Faulk limped off the field in last Sunday’s win.  We don’t know when Maroney will be back.  But Rodney Harrison may be ready to put the hurtin’ on someone real soon.  That will help tremendously, since he’s one of the guys on the field that helps others get in position.  I’m not feeling too confident about this team in the playoffs though.

Pierce will join Wally, Perkins, and Ratliff on the physically inactive list.  Kandi man is active, but not quite ready to come back.  The Celtics, who have played much better as of late, are so banged up that essentially no veteran players remain.  Well, there is Scalabrini.  Al Jefferson and Tony Allen have flourished with the increased playing time.  Now we see if Gerald Green does too.  I hope so. 

Some people give the Celtics a hard time for not getting AI.  There are people who don’t know ANYTHING.  Some people live in fantasy land.  The 76ers really didn’t want to send him to a division rival.  And the Celtics had some guys they weren’t trading- period.  This was a deal that was never going to happen, so get over it.

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The bad news today comes out of Cleveland, where they announced the Indians will leave Winter Haven for Spring Training.  Oddly, the article must have been an old one from when they left Homestead after Andrew flattened the place.  The article kept mentioning how out of the way Homestead was, and how hard it was to get to.  Goodyear, AZ will be so much better.  Ah, Winter Haven is less than an hour from the airports in Orlando & Tampa.  How hard is THAT?  I understand the facilities aren’t exactly what they need, and can accept that.  But it was not mentioned.  They just say the Indians were never happy here.

As far as the facilities go… the Indians would have to sign a long-term lease before the State would grant public money to build a new, more adequate facility.  I’m not sure why they think no ball players would live here.  Quite a few have come from here, and retire here (including Pat Borders & Lance Parrish).  I think I just read that Grady Little has a place here (I think it was him).  And we’ve got Cypress Gardens Adventure Park (cough, cough).

The wooing of Dice-K certainly could make a great book.  Perhaps Seth “Feeding the Monster” Mnookin could write it.  Speaking of Feeding the Monster, I’m currently reading it- it is a great look behind the scenes for a baseball fan.  I recommend it.

The J.D. Drew contract has not been finalized.  The Sox want to protect themselves just in case a problem with his surgically repaired shoulder pops up.

The Sox signed lots of minor league contracts.  Still no closer.  But I’m thinking maybe Martinez from the Portland Sea Dogs could give it a shot since Hansen is “still developing”. 

Runelvys Hernandez signed a minor league contract too.  Perhaps they could convert him to a closer.  Just a thought.  I don’t know what kind of stuff this guy has.

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