On performance enhancing drugs in sports…

baseballI guess you all have heard that David Ortiz’s name has turned up on the infamous “secret list”…the same one that has brought down Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, etc.  As a Red Sox fan, of course I was disappointed…but by no means surprised.  It doesn’t take a drug test or an opportunist reporter to recognize the difference in production and the sudden breakdown health wise with Big Papi to know what’s going on.  In this day and age, when someone begins to do “super-human” things in the world of sports, my skeptical antennae get REAL sensitive.  I guess that’s a shame but its part of growing up…innocence lost…all that stuff.

Since I find myself on the road a lot with my job, I tend to listen to a lot of sports talk radio…that is until a steroid story breaks…then it’s time to hit XM Channel 45 (The Spectrum) for some good music and a break from the constant noise of this particular issue.  Here’s my take on it:

  • Baseball has a steroids era…deal with it.  You can talk about it “tainting the game/records/stats/etc.”  However there has always been cheating in baseball.
  • Every team was “enhanced” in some way by this particular drug induced epoch, so I don’t necessarily feel anyone’s titles are tarnished.  Heck, it was a pretty great feat to beat the other ‘roided up teams on their schedules.
  • Please spare me the I-WAS-CLEAN-I-NEVER-TOOK-IT-DON’T-BLAME-ME garbage.  If you were in a major league locker room during this time period, you either took it or you knew people were taking it.  If supposed “clean” players knew it was going on, they should have shouted about the integrity of the game then.   All this whining after the fact rings really hollow.
  • I’m sick of journalists making their careers one name at a time with a list that was supposed to be confidential.  Their “journalistic” integrity looks a lot more like opportunism to me.  (funny how the writer of the story about Ortiz is with the New York Times)
  • Now that some of the names have leaked…ALL the names should be made public.  A few guys should not take the fall for the whole league.
  • As to the Hall of Fame, I don’t really care…to repeat myself, we have a “steroid era” in baseball, and we all know it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to justify any of this.  I think it’s irresponsible, destructive, and a very poor reflection on the game.  It reinforces my belief that I don’t mind someone admiring an athelete’s athletic exploits on  the field…but there are much better (and safer) role models elsewhere.  The athletes have received WAY TOO MUCH money and WAY TOO MUCH exposure for WAY TOO LONG.

Rembrandt Coffee Shop

Rembrandt Coffee Shop
Rembrandt Coffee Shop

I was able to grab a quick cup of coffee at my favorite Chattanooga cafe Tuesday before an appointment.  It’s located in the Bluff View Art District near the river, between downtown and UT Chattanooga.

This is a city that has done a fantastic job in revitalizing its downtown area and lots of folk are noticing.  One thing that stood out in my very quick and quite incomplete google research was it’s rank as #2 Arts Destination (midsized city) by American Style Magazine (2009).

Evangelizing Children…

Harpers 2009-08I read what I found to be a disturbing article in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine this week.  Normally, the Harper’s Index is the first thing I turn to when my new magazine arrives in the mailbox.  However, an article written by Rachel Aviv entitled Like I Was Jesus: How to bring a nine-year-old to Christ jumped off the front cover.  The title used terms very familiar to anyone who has been brought up in a religion that stresses personal salvation and evangelism.  It was a little disconcerting to see them in the context of a cover article in Harper’s.

Though I never resorted to use of an EvangeCube, I recognized some of the techniques being described from my college summer missions assignments.  I was always somewhat uncomfortable in those types of “ministry” situations.  Several questions usually arose: Where are the parents of these kids?  What would they say about this?  What will be the long-term result of these “conversions”?  What does that type of conversion mean when made outside the context of a nurturing community of Jesus followers?  Activities the religious/evangelical/revivalist culture of our churches considers almost normal practice look manipulative and predatory to those outside that culture.

Maybe more damning is this observation of the writer:

The missionaries attempted to present the Bible as clearly and simply as possible, but it was the rigidity of their lessons that ultimately disoriented the children I spoke to.  As they discovered that, in fact, the Lord had not swooped down to heal their wounds and scrapes and disappointments, the new beliefs they had adopted seemed destined to break down, along with whatever was driving them to have faith in the first place.

What effect does this have on the long-term possibility of mature faith?

“bet the house is not the same without my hyper self…”

hyper |ˈhīpər| — (adjective informal)  hyperactive or unusually energetic

I spoke to my youngest son on the telephone last night.  He and his brother have been in Louisiana for 16 days…I would round that off to “about 2 weeks” but it’s been every bit of 16 days.  Mom and dad and sister miss them both very much, and from the phone conversations the feelings are mutual.

Now they have had a blast in Louisiana with the grandparents.  A quick rundown of their itinerary: 3 days with the cousins from Texas (they do not get together nearly enough); logged numerous miles driving (I do mean driving…not merely riding) papaw’s pickup truck around the fields, to the store and the co-op; explored the home place on the 4-wheeler; swam in the river nearly every evening, toured various points of interest along the Louisiana gulf coast (Grand Isle; South Lafourche High School-their dad’s alma mater; visited the Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum; visited LSU; Mike the Tiger’s habitat; TigerMania for baseball National Championship gear; hung out with Aunt Sherry and Uncle Tony, enjoyed numerous “guilt-free” trips to WalMart for more toys they do not need; enjoyed hot, home-maid biscuits every meal on demand; “camping out” in mamaw’s living room, etc.   I could go on, but you get the idea.
Ethan, the youngest, had a bet on with his brother that big sister Hillary “didn’t miss him.”  Austen, with 4 years more maturity and experience in such things knew better.  But Ethan had his doubts…until he talked to big-sis and decided it was necessary to reverse his bet.  So last night, on the eve of their return home, Ethan verbalized the following observation:

“I’ll bet the house isn’t the same without my hyper self.”

I had to laugh…nothing more true has ever been said.  He was expressing many things with that observation.  He knew there were no little boys from the neighborhood descending on the refrigerator and the pantry like locusts picking them clean of soft drinks and snacks.  He knew the house was quieter without his “hyper-self” creating new worlds via the mediums of Lego, action figures, pens, paper, and computer games.  But most of all, he wanted to hear someone verbalize that he was missed—that in his absence was a hole that could not be filled.  And he was absolutely right.
I’m thankful for summer vacations with the grandparents…those are memories I still cherish from my own childhood.  I’m also thankful for that hyper-self returning today to refill his space.  I don’t think I’ll be telling him to chill out…at least for a couple of days.

CBF General Assembly…post assembly take…

My last post was a “flash” post on my first day of the assembly.  I was quite honestly not very excited to be there.  It came across as sort of pitiful upon hearing some of the comments people said to me subsequently.  It wasn’t intended as a pity party…I had a great time, hung out with some very cool people, was re-energized by some of those people, and was able to spend some good times in Houston…so don’t feel sorry for me…

However, I truly wasn’t very excited going into the Assembly.  We find ourselves still in a (seemingly) never ending time of transition here in Tennessee, there seemed to be a resignation surrounding the meeting that the numbers of regestered participants would be way down (they were) and that we were all sort of in limbo…I sort of played into that feeling of dread in several conversations I had this past week.

However, I got up this morning and began to reflect on the week and the conversations I was fortunate enough to engage and I’ve changed my mind.  Some of the positives:

  • I met/talked with/hung out with several very cool, very gifted young women that I would love to be my pastor someday (hopefully soon).  I am very encouraged! (check out this sermon from one of them…Ann Pitman-A Tale Of Two Daughters.
  • I saw a much younger crowd than I have seen in years past
  • I hung out most of the time with a group of college students there participating in the Houston Sessions…I miss that very much…this was very energizing…THANKS all of you!
  • I was encouraged by those who attended the workshops I participated in…great questions…great potential…
  • I was thankful to be a part of a large gathering of Baptists where nothing was discussed that I was embarrassed to read in the papers the next day
  • my CBF google feed produced the following blog post this morning…it made me smile…it made me happy to be a part of CBF:  Meant to Love

There are a lot more things I could say.  For all of the above, I could find several corresponding things to bitch about…why aren’t we hiring women pastors, we were younger because we were close to Baylor and Truett, we could do better by college students, yada, yada, yada….  That makes me weary…I’m rather tired of that…even though I’ve contributed to that type of bitching in the past.

It felt good to be a Baptist this week.  I’m optimistic about the future, if  not about denominational systems, very much so about the church and the kingdom of God and our upcoming leaders.  I hope to be a part of that movement…or at least witness it.   Enough…lots of work to do today.  Peace!