Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some thoughts on MLK Jr.

I'm obviously a few days late posting this but I had to share some thoughts from Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Of all the days we have in our country named after a person, this day is by far the most deserved.

I've been doing some reading on slavery, Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement. It's amazing how quickly a system dominated by rich whites was able to 'correct' itself after the Civil War. For the first 10 years after the Civil War, black people made huge economic, educational and political strides. But when local and national leaders found ways to start ignoring the new laws and constitutional amendment, blacks were forced back into a new form of slavery and oppression. And racial oppression wasn't limited to the South, it was simply more obvious in the South. The racial oppression in the North was more covert but it was just as strong.

It's hard for me to imagine what it would be like to keep running into the invisible (illegal) but real barriers that obstructed the life of a black person. It's also impossible to imagine how people could be killed simply for joining the civil rights movement. What would cause someone to attack and kill passengers in the freedom rides simply because the bus was segregated? But even more disturbing, how could local and national government figures, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy simply ignore the slaughter of the freedom riders?

Below are two quotes from King followed by my own summary of his life.

"It is inevitable that we've got to bring out the question of the tragic mixup in priorities. We are spending all of this money for death and destruction and not nearly enough money for life and constructive development... when the guns of war become a national obsession, social needs inevitably suffer."

"If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don't ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us."

The life of MLK Jr. is a revelation. It reveals the limitless good that can come out of a life completely committed to God's purposes, no matter the cost to self or even family. It reveals that a revolution can triumph without violence and that justice can be delivered even in the absence of the sword. Finally, his ...death reveals what happens when a person dares to speak out against unjust systems whether they be systems of racism, economics, military violence or politics.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Daily Office

A couple Sundays ago, in the midst of this Emotionally Healthy Spirituality series, I shared about the Daily Office. "Office" comes from a Latin word that means "work" and the daily work is an ancient Christian practice training for constant communication with God throughout the day. This constant communication can be juxtaposed to the practice I had for years, putting in my time with God each day and then just going about the rest of my day - sometimes coming back to God but most often not.

As I wrote in my first post of 2009 and several times throughout the year (see tag below) I've been trying to train myself in the discipline of practicing God's presence. I've had some good times but mostly it's been a pretty unsuccessful experiment. Well, since using this book on the Daily Office from the emotionally healthy website, I've made some gains in this discipline. This book has helped bring a good balance between a tool helping me focus upon God and my mind being trained to return to God throughout the day.

I'm still a novice in this life of practicing God's presence but it's nice to have seen some growth.

BTW, you can read or listen to (most) of the message on the Daily Office here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

No room left on the bandwagon

Who said the Iowa BB team would go winless in the Big 10 this year? Hawkeys - 67, Nittany Lions - 64.

Demonstrating once again that (say it with me now) WE OWN - PENN STATE!

Highlights Sure wish I could embed these videos...

Friday, January 8, 2010


If you know me very well, you know that I pretty much suck at patience. Yes, I really, really suck at being patient. With that in mind, let me share a journal entry from Dec. 28th and 29th as I was working through a Daily Office.

Question from the book, "What is one area of your inner person that the fire of His presence might want to burn away?" I don't even have to think about this - impatience. From yelling at Erin when I thought the car door broke... end of entry.

Ironically, this entry was interrupted by Dawson waking from his nap. Which, of course, agitates my impatience. I picked him up and sat down on the couch, when he fell asleep on my shoulder for about 20 minutes. It's hard for me to sit still for 20 minutes. All I can think of is stuff I need to do. But it gave me a perspective, a perspective of God holding me. A perspective of the world not falling apart if I didn't do that stuff right then. Maybe that perspective is what patience is - being 'okay' in the moment. And I got one of the most precious times with my son I may ever experience in my life.

The Value of Pain

From Chaim Potok's novel, The Chosen.

"One learns the pain of others by suffering one's own pain, by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain. It destroys our self-pride, our arrogance, and our indifference toward others. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the Master of the Universe."

The Value of Emotions

In the book I'm using for the Daily Office, Begin the Journey with the Daily Office, Peter Scazzero quote's Dan Allender and Tremper Longman from The Cry of the Soul.

"Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God... Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice... However, we often turn a deaf ear - through emotional, denial, distortion, or disengagement. We strain out anything disturbing in order to gain tenuous control of our inner world. We are frightened and ashamed of what leaks into our consciousness. In neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honest and vulnerability before God."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hawks DOMINATE Jackets in nail-biter Orange Bowl Victory

The 2010 Orange Bowl was vintage Iowa; a schizophrenic offense, a lock-down defense and a temperature slightly higher than Miami's record low from 1919.

I watched the game with Bill Marty and some other friends at the Other Place in Olathe. Watching a game at a sports bar with hundreds of fellow fans is almost as good as being at Kinnick Stadium, the crowd even cheers at the same time a live crowd would cheer.
Iowa jumped out to a quick 14-0 first quarter lead and it seemed the game was going to be a breeze. One fellow fan called out, "It's gonna be a blowout" to which another guy responded, "the Hawks don't blow anyone out." No more than 1 minute after that declaration, Ricky Stanzi threw his 4th pick-6 of the season. Four pick-6's and Iowa won each of those games. I've gotta think the 2009 Hawkeyes set some sort of NCAA record for the proportion of pick-6's thrown compared to the number of wins. While Georgia Tech was only one play away from taking the lead through the better part of the fourth quarter and while the final score was only a 10 point differential, the Hawkeyes were clearly the dominant team (hence the title of this blog post).

The game's primary match up was the unstoppable force of the Georgia Tech triple-option offense vs. the immovable object of the Iowa defense. The nation's leading running team was held to ONE, yes, ONE first down the entire half and only TWO sustained drives (which resulted in only 7 points) the ENTIRE game. I think the Jacket offensive line eventually gave up even pretending to block Adrian Clayborn. Here are some stats from Adam Rittenberg of
  • Georgia Tech had season lows in points (14), total yards (156) and first downs (9)
  • Iowa forced Yellow Jackets punts on their first six possessions after Tech had gone 22 consecutive possessions without a punt
  • The Hawkeyes held Georgia Tech to 32 yards of total offense in the first half, marking Tech's lowest first-half total in at least 20 years
  • Georgia Tech's scoreless second quarter marked just the eighth time in 55 quarters that the Yellow Jackets failed to score
  • Iowa recorded three sacks, five tackles for loss and an interception
This bowl win does two things for next year's Iowa team, which based upon returning starters should be a juggernaut on defense but might struggle on offense; it sets them up for a top ten preseason ranking and shuts up the ESPN commentators who have enjoyed ripping the Big Ten. With the slow Big Ten teams of Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State beating into submission and running circles around speedy ACC, SEC and Pac-Ten teams, the conference has finally re-earned some respect. But these things are cyclical and the Big Ten might suck in bowls again next year, respect or the lack-thereof is based upon faulty perceptions.

As I do with other big wins, I'll watch this game over and over while jogging on the treadmill, which leads to my only complaint about one of the biggest wins in Iowa football history - the game was on FOX. It was FOX's last BCS game with the end of their contract and unfortunately, FOX's college football broadcast is as inept in comparison to ABC/ESPN as the Georgia Tech offense when matched up against the Iowa defense. Oh well, I guess beggars who win a major bowl every 50 years (59 Rose Bowl) can't be choosers.

Overall, it's GREAT to be a HAWKEYE!

ESPN won't allow embedding their videos but for a much better highlight video, click here.
Same with Big Ten network, here.

For all of blackheartgoldpants' hilarious game in pictures, click here.

And for some more fun Hawkeye and College Football videos: