Of all the annoying words that unfortunately carry usefully definite meaning, I have to say “exvangelical” is my least favorite. But I just listened to the “Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” podcast and so it is now in my lexicon.
In any case, this is a word which upon one hearing the meaning is clear. Or rather, in one use we can tell what it does not mean. It isn’t denoting apostasy from Christianity, it is just expressing that the tenets of evangelical Christianity are too much too bear.
Well, tonight I discovered the exvangelical roll has an additional name.
My step-son, A-, is twelve, as I have mentioned. That’s seventh grade.
He is playing traveling basketball, which here in rural Minnesota is not quite insane or indicative of his abilities or desires. It’s just what they call the most base level of youth basketball. Two practices a week. A few three-game tournaments.
Traveling basketball as a term is also useful because, we have learned, there is another kind of youth basketball being played in the winter months—school ball.
Long story short, since hearing that there is such a thing as school ball, A- is now practicing or playing basketball 6 days a week. What can I say? Basketball is something A- enjoys. I’d rather see him do something he enjoys than yell at him for being (fill in the blank with undesirable qualities) all day and night.
For my part, too, I have been fascinated at comparing my youth basketball experience with my local church experience.
Remember my, “Guests cannot speak. Not even me.” post? That was church world. Now, in youth sports, as of a few weeks ago, I am coach of the B Team.
Why did they let me? What are my qualifications? Did I go to the equivalent of seminary for basketball, you may ask?
I simply had to display interest and availability.
Next thing I knew, I was choosing tournaments and directing where the money should be sent.
Back to our little (and new) exvangelical.
Tonight at dinner, keep in mind it is Wednesday night, I said to A-, are we still aiming to make YTH tonight? (Out loud you would’ve heard “youth”, but the trendy multi-site Assemblies church calls it YTH.)
“Oh,” he says sheepishly. “I kinda forgot about that.”
I then said, chuckling, “Well, now you know what it feels like for every other Christian in America.”
Some days I wake up and have a lot to say. Today is one of those days. With an eye on poignancy, here goes.
One article collected and laid out the tragic history of sports figures and fatal aviation mishaps. Hmm. Who would we expect to be buzzing around Earth’s sky in heavier than air machines? The homeless? The destitute? Flying is and always will be an activity for the wealthy. There’s nothing surprising about aviation mishap victims having wealth or being renowned personalities.
The real catalyst for this post, however, is the report/advertisement that some Super Bowl commercial (please consider these words in their fullness–the “news” is about “advertising decisions”) has removed a scene with a helicopter from its Sunday ad. This has been done out of respect, they say. I say that they didn’t go far enough. I say that we all haven’t gone far enough.
Why not re-shoot all Super Bowl commercials involving helicopters in their productions? In fact, I do not think we should see an overhead shot of anything. Truly, we should just advertise using cartoons. But no sky shots! And for God’s sake, no clouds!
Additionally, the opening and closing of those super respectful commercials (they should be silent, since helicopters are noisy), should include the disclaimer, “No helicopters were used in the images, filming, or travel methods of any of the humans who had anything to do with this advertisement.” And I want a time stamp, too, like, “The last time a helicopter was used by anyone, including me, who had anything to do with this commercial was _______.” Let’s find out who really respects the victims of the tragedy.
I will cry when Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro die. In the past I have thought about celebrity deaths that will be difficult to stomach, but only after watching Grudge Match am I sure that those two will cause a genuine sense of loss.
The movie is easy. The story is straightforward. And as a bonus, a black man and an old man use their societal advantages to provide the audience with guilty laughs.
The movie is almost good enough to be called “good” even if the viewer hasn’t seen Raging Bull or any films in the Rocky Saga–almost. Then again, no movie would be comprehensible if all context could be removed.
It’s humorous the way each fighter is equally the underdog. We have underdog versus underdog. Luckily, the respective underdog attributes are acted well-enough to birth some curiosity. By the time we find ourselves calling the filmmakers names for not having the courage to use Rocky’s theme song one last time to accompany the mandatory training montage, we do wonder how the fight will end. And we nurse a hope that it will end the way we want it to, whichever way that is. Surprisingly, the film’s writers and director are more on point than we ever could’ve imagined.
In the final round of the fight we arrive at two specific moments that explicitly reveal the film’s theme, and whether these moments are taken together or individually, that theme proves to be well worth the, at times perfunctory, 90 minute commute.
In short, if you remain undecided about watching it, watch it.
“I heard that his face was blue.”
“I heard that he still had a faint pulse, so they tried CPR on him for a long time. It’s all about oxygen in the brain. Doesn’t matter if there’s a pulse if the brain’s been deprived of it for that long.”
Any teacher looking toward the boys during the passing period could tell by their enhanced self-awareness that none of them possessed tools capable of handling the news. As if bound by tacit consent, each of them did their part to keep the silence–the sadness–at bay.
“His parents were the first to see him in the tree early this morning. Can you imagine it?” the boy asked, almost forgetting to avoid silence. “Knowing that,” the boy stumbled to resume, “knowing that while you were sleeping in your bed, right outside your window your child was…” the boy couldn’t say it.
“I’ll tell you something. His brother, Josh, is probably the reason I began lifting weights,” another interrupted in an attempt to lighten the mood. Attentive and curious eyes rewarded his move. “Seriously. I remember in gym, in 7th or 8th grade, that a girl was in awe upon, at her request, seeing his flexed bicep. She had such a big smile.”
Their acceptance of a prolonged silence told him they were happy to hear more of this odd revelation.
“Yep. I remember going home and flexing. I was so ashamed. He wasn’t much stronger than me, but compared to the sphere sitting between his elbow and shoulder, mine was like a straw. In that moment, I knew what I had to do if I wanted a girl’s attention.”
They shook their heads in disbelief at his confession, so he continued.
“Of course, if we were to replay the situation today, he’d look puny. On that day the big difference between he and I was that he was flexing incorrectly, his arm bent all the way, while I was already using a more proper pose, arm bent at ninety degrees,” he modeled to an approving audience. Dropping his arm, he concluded, “But she didn’t know any of that. And without her, without that smile, I can’t say for sure that I would’ve ever picked up a weight.”
“Great story man,” one of them voiced, lighting laughter’s fuse.
“Give me a break! It’s just a memory I had,” he answered, smiling as they shuffled off to their classes.
Last summer an entrepreneur, friend, and sometimes blogger told me, “If you blog daily for six months, you should have 1000 followers at the end of those six months.” Well, it’s been more than seven months of daily posts on Captain’s Log, and I’m sitting at 199. As is the case with most facts, this amuses me. Just the same, seeing that I am a part of the human race, and therefore partial to round numbers, I’m excited to amass follower number 200. And I’m shameless when it comes to getting what I want. So here’s what I’m offering: the blogger who follows me as number 200 will get a free review of their blog. That’s right. I’ll take some time between now and Monday to peruse your blog and then I’ll write the review for Monday’s post. You can trust that I will be sure to say nice things as well as true things. If you’re on the fence, think of it this way: in return for a simple click of a mouse, you’ll get exposure to 199 readers who possibly aren’t aware of your stuff. Heck, I might not be aware you exist.
This is a one time offer, and it is sure to go fast. A little book called “The Magic of Thinking Big” mentions that “everyone you know craves praise”. Well, I’m offering praise in exchange for bliss. Whatdya say?
Schwartz, David Joseph. The Magic of Thinking Big. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1959. Print.
On this the 27th day of December, in the year 2013, I hereby challenge anyone worthy enough to accept. The object: spend money faster than me. That’s right. All you have to do is demonstrate to me that you can keep money in your possession for less time than me, and you win.
Think this sounds easy? Think again. I’ve been known to release dollars back into the wild faster than teens develop excuses.
Oh, and let’s not forget spending money before I even have it. Consider the upcoming tax refund? Yep, already spent.
So what do you say? Think you have what it takes?
I know some of you have the competitive spirit. If you’re worried about losing, don’t be. This is the only competition where the loser also wins. I know, I know. You’re nervous. Why? I’ve seen how you spend. You may be able to beat me. There’s only one way to find out.
For all the information, misinformation, and controversy surrounding the origin of the game of baseball, one piece of trivia is rarely mentioned. Whether Abner Doubleday or Alexander Cartwright should be credited as the father of America’s pastime, it seems to me that the more pressing question–the question that nobody is asking–is, “Where would the game of baseball be without second base?”
What you have to understand is baseball began as a competition, similar to cricket, which involved balls and bats and home plate and base. Initially, there were not four bases, mind you, just one. The player would hit the ball and run back and forth between two points in space–home plate and base. What most people don’t bother wondering about is how home plate and this single base (just called ‘base’ as there wasn’t, at that time, another base which necessitated the distinctions “first” and “second”) multiplied into the modern baseball diamond comprised of home plate, first base, second base and third base.
As you are no doubt realizing, the addition of a second base was no trivial matter. Without adding a second base, there would have never been a reason to add a third base, and without third base, there is no baseball diamond. So, we must ask how second base came to be. More to the point, we should want to know who to credit for the addition of a second base. As fate would have it, it was none other than than “father of American music” himself–Stephen Foster.
Having recently penned such classics as “Oh, Susanna” and “Camptown Races”, Foster was a veritable celebrity. He was the man of the hour in the mid-1800s. And he happened to be a bit of a sports nut. No one knows for certain how it happened, but after some light reflection it should be no surprise to anyone that Foster, who became known for writing songs with special emphasis on the refrain, was the man who suggested adding another base to the playing field. After all, it was the addition of second base that gave baseball what some might call musicality.
Think about it. A game where men simply run back and forth between two designated spots offers no real distinguishing excitement, no real flow. But, as we all know and love, if a player makes it to second base on the diamond of today, he is in “scoring” position. Reaching scoring position, then, is similar to the unique characteristic of Foster’s own music. That being, the emphasis on the refrain. As a verse of Foster’s music concludes, everyone knows the refrain is coming, and still everyone can’t wait for it to happen. Regardless the amount of listeners singing the verses, everyone in earshot contributes their own voice to “Oh, Susanna, oh don’t you cry for me!” Is it not the same when the runner reaches second base? Maybe the inning is dragging on, maybe it seems all hope is lost, maybe you are lost in thought trying to remember when they stop serving beer–it doesn’t matter. The minute the runner makes it to second, he might score a run. And if he does, his crossing home plate triggers another batter and extends the offensive strike; in other words, it acts as a refrain. Is there anyone who would attempt to argue that there is any quantifiable difference between crowds cheering upon their team scoring a run and crowds singing “Oh, Susanna, oh don’t you cry for me. Well I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee”?
I don’t know why I feel its important to bring this to your attention. Not forgetting the little man is just in my nature. Blame my dad. The point is, next time you’re feeling a profound love of the game, toss some of it to Stephen Foster; for who knows where America’s pastime would be if it wasn’t for the “father of American music.”
Happy Birthday Dad. Thanks for the memories.
Before he knew it he noticed he only had one blue and one green ring left in his cereal bowl. Looking towards her, he saw he was clearly going to win. Coming at the rings from the side, he lifted them out of the milk with one experienced motion. After removing the spoon from his mouth he shocked her with the news.
“Guess what? Looks like I win.”
“Huh uh, daddy. I’m gonna win.”
“Nope. I already won. Don’t you understand? You can’t win.”
“Huh uh, daddy. You don’t get the trophy.”
“I most certainly do get the trophy. I do. Don’t you see that I won? You always tell me very clearly that when you win, I lose. Well, today I won, and that means I get the trophy.”
Her tears really didn’t bother him until the sound of their creation became deafening. And that only happened as he grabbed the trophy. Not a total arse, he put the trophy back on the table. After all, she was only three-and-a-half. The roar softened to a whimper.
Taking his bowl to the counter, he kept up the banter, making sure she didn’t miss the lesson. He came back and saw she was finally done.
“Can I have a little bit more?” she asked, making the universal sign for ‘liddle bit’ with her thumb and forefinger.
“You can, but you need to understand that this only further proves that I won. Having more cereal after I’m already finished means that even if you had finished the first round before me, you still wouldn’t have won today. Today, I won and you lost. Don’t worry about it. There’s always tomorrow.”
She nodded to placate him.
He watched her finish her second helping. Now carrying her bowl, he made his way around the corner into the kitchen. Upon returning to the table, he noticed she was gone. Her bedroom was in direct line-of-sight only 15 feet further from him than the table. Sensing movement, he peered into the darkness and recognized the little girl. “Why the hell is she standing in her bedroom in the dark?” he thought to himself. His eyes adapting, he saw a shimmer of gold–center mass. Moving only his eyes, he looked down at the table. The trophy was gone.
“Like they say, ‘If y’ain’t cheatin’, y’ain’t tryin’.’,” he thought to himself in a southern accent, smiling proudly.
Tony was a nice enough looking guy. A new member to Gold’s Gym, he sat across from me with a look of genuine interest. He, the student. Me, the teacher.
He liked to laugh. I could tell that right away. That was always a relief when starting the process.
“We’re going to start by using what we call the 10-10-10. Ten exercises, ten workouts, ten times. While it seems easy, and not very manly, we need to start somewhere and this is it.”
“Okay, sounds good… I really want to know about about dieting too,” Tony furthered the conversation.
“What questions do you have? I’m kinda particular about diet advice.”
“Well, I guess I just want to get my six-pack back.”
“That’s it? That’s simple. No bread, no fruit, no dairy. If you’re on a budget, spend all your money on protein powders, tuna, and rice.”
“Really? It’s that easy?”
“Yep, I’ll tell you how much rice to eat a day, and you can eat as much tuna and protein powder as you can afford. The fat will be gone in no time.”
“That’s cool. When I have my six-pack back, the hair on my stomach will go away too, right?”
“When I had my six-pack, I didn’t have any hair on my stomach. And the bodybuilders that are all ripped in the magazines don’t have any hair. I just figured that being that muscular prevented the hair from growing.”
“Uh-huh. Well, unfortunately, in this part of the country, at this time of the year, no, that isn’t the case. You’ll have to shave like the rest of us.”