Saturday, March 10, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
I went traditional this Lenten season, giving up meat (except for fish on Fridays and Sundays). It's hard. I spent the day with some friends yesterday and for dinner we went to a nice Italian restaurant where we ordered fried calamari as an appetizer. Fried calamari, along with an avocado bacon cheeseburger, is what I would eat for my last meal if I ever found myself on death row.
But that's why we observe Lent; to identify with the less fortunate (as if having to eat cheese ravioli with mushrooms is really a major sacrifice) and to identify with and remember Jesus' sufferings on our behalf, and his strength in resisting temptation.
I can barely say “no” to meat at a meal. Jesus said no to bread after having fasted for forty days. Jesus hung out with prostitutes and probably drank while hanging out with them. He didn't sin; I'm pretty positive I couldn't say the same if I were placed in that situation. Jesus willingly journeyed to his death, having had plenty of opportunities to say “yes” to running away. But he said no to that, and said yes to love.
Lent, I think, shows us our weaknesses; in our weaknesses, Jesus' strength is made all the more astounding and praiseworthy.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
You may recall a tragic story out of Rutgers from a year and a half ago involving a pair of roommates, a webcam, a spied-upon romantic encounter, and ultimately a suicide. If not, you can refresh your memory here.
I mentioned at that time why the whole story fascinated me so much. If it does the same to you, you might be interested in this rather long article with a detailed account of the whole saga.
Late-night IM conversations about your future roommate...saying unkind and critical things to make yourself sound cool...being sexiled from your dorm room...gossiping...it's all so mundane, and so close to home...and yet look how it ended up. Still amazes, fascinates, and horrifies me.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
A couple stories here (note that the video and the article are two separate stories) of parents arrested for illegal immigration, with their kids taken away from them.
The scars of childbirth were still healing on Amelia Reyes Jimenez's stomach in 2008 when police came to her Phoenix apartment and took her three-month-old daughter from her arms.Three and a half years later, Reyes Jimenez and her four children have become statistics in the U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration. Each year thousands of children of undocumented immigrants, like Amelia's kids, wind up in foster care when their parents are arrested for immigration violations. Some are even adopted by U.S. citizens while their parents are held in federal detention centers or deported back to their native countries.Reyes Jimenez's son and three daughters are now living in foster care in Phoenix, and are awaiting possible adoption. Reyes Jimenez is back in Mexico, her parental rights terminated by an Arizona judge, and she cries when she remembers the raid that began it all."My daughters were calling, 'Mommy, my Mommy,'" said Reyes Jimenez. "I felt destroyed. I felt like I would never see my girls, even worse [the baby] was so small. I had just bought her cradle and her stroller."A new study by the human rights group Applied Research Center estimates that as of summer 2011 there were at least 5,100 children of detained immigrants in foster care in 22 states.[...]"It's sort of like saying, okay, you came here as an undocumented immigrant, we're going to break up your family, we're going to keep your kids," said John De Leon, and attorney who represents the Guatemalan and Mexican consulate in immigration cases. He says he has seen the issue grow into a national problem over the last decade.[...]Reyes Jimenez was sent to a detention center an hour outside Phoenix. It would be six months before she had any contact with her children, and nearly two years before she would see them again in person."I didn't know anything about my girls; they didn't give me any reasons," she said. "I would ask about them and nobody would answer."Reyes Jimenez, who pled guilty to the misdemeanor, then spent nearly two years fighting deportation. Ultimately, she was loaded onto a bus and dropped off in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, just across the border.
Someone should do something about this.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Remember the "Axis of Evil?" Back in 2002, President Bush identified Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as three countries which, in their own ways, posed grave threats to the security of the United States and the world.
We all know what happened to Iraq.
These days, Iran is the one that's been getting a lot of attention, due to their oft-bellicose rhetoric and pursuit of a nuclear energy program which may or may not enable them to build a nuclear weapon. Across the political spectrum, most Democrats and Republicans agree in saying that Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. Sanctions have already been imposed, and many are openly talking about the possibility of another pre-emptive war.
And now, an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated. Andrew Sullivan raises a few good points in the wake of this event:
Santorum has also apparently proposed treating Iranian nuclear scientists as enemy combatants. My point is this: If you're a scientist, in Iran, and your government is telling you that the United States is a dangerous country that might invade your country (just like it did your neighbor), and the best way to defend against this is to create a nuclear defense - "peace through strength," one might say - then what would you do? Put yourself in his shoes.
This is probably not a person who even bore us any ill-will! And yet apparently his death is worth celebrating (and, by implication, his assassination was justifiable) simply because he was on the other team.
Whether you're going by "love your enemies," or "an eye for an eye," or "civilian casualties during wartime are unfortunate but inevitable," this one's pretty hard to justify.
Let alone celebrate.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Every Sunday when Tim Tebow is playing, me and my boys at church anxiously wait for the sermon to finish so we can huddle around an iPhone and check the score in the Broncos game.
Okay, fine, let me revise that. My boys check their iPhones during the sermon; me, being the one who usually preaches, I anxiously wait for myself to finish so I can join in and find out what's happening.
Tebow, of course, is famous for his open - some would say too open - displays of his Christian faith. And I don't doubt that a good deal of the vituperation that comes his way is due to the fact that he may be seen as sanctimonious or preachy.
And if that's why some people dislike him, then it's easy (and possibly correct) to assume that many people like him precisely because he is an outspoken Christian. And sure, as a Christian, I really like Tebow's commitment to missions, his love and compassion toward the disabled, and his completely astounding success at saving himself for marriage. (And again, how awesome is it to see someone who truly practices what they preach and isn't a hypocrite. Right?) I like the man off the field.
But in all honesty, I don't think that's why me and my boys are glued to our iPhones, post-service. It's not why I'm rooting for him. Derek Fisher is a strong Christian, and I'm a Laker-hater. Same goes for Matt Barkley and USC. I may admire them off the field, but that doesn't make me root for their team. But Tim Tebow, on the field, has a lot of things to recommend him to fans who share his faith and those who don't.
- Firstly, Tebow is one heck of an exciting player to watch. Partly because he does take off running in a particularly bruising fashion more often than most QBs, but also because he seems to have a knack at playing badly until the very end and then coming through in the clutch. That may not be a testament to his skills as a QB, but it sure makes for fun games. That game against the Steelers was one of the most exciting and entertaining and edge-of-your-seat games I've seen in a long time.
- Second, no matter how much he gets badmouthed, he responds by winning (or not). He doesn't rub it in when he wins or whine when he loses. He lets his playing do the talking for him.
- He makes his team better. People rightly point out that much of the Broncos success during their 7-1 streak was due not to Tebow's late-game heroics but to a solid defense that kept the Broncos in the game. But where was that defense during the Broncos 1-4 start? They had potential, sure, but it wasn't until Tebow came in and set an example of being willing to go out and take a beating for the team that they truly lived up to their potential. Sometimes, the most valuable players aren't the ones with the best stats, but the ones who intangibly make their team better. You've got to put Tebow in that category.
- Conversely, Tebow very clearly appreciates both his teammates and his fans. He gives them credit and recognizes that he wouldn't be where he's at without their support.
- Finally, he excels far beyond his skills would suggest. This is what baffles me about people who dislike Tebow and say it's because he sucks and shouldn't be winning...because isn't that exactly the underdog story that Americans and sports fans love so much? Isn't that what Rocky Balboa did? Or the team in Hoosiers? Or the 1980 US Olympic hockey team? Did the same people who dislike Tebow for this reason find themselves rooting for the Soviets when they watched Miracle?
Broncos-Patriots this weekend. Hopefully Tebow and the Broncos come out to play and make it an exciting game. If they lost, I'm sure they'll do it with class and dignity - and if they win, dang, this is getting to be one heck of an exciting run.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
This afternoon, the Denver Broncos will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Fans of football and even casual attention-payers of the news know all about Tim Tebow; the Heisman Trophy-winning, two-time BCS champion quarterback with an unorthodox style of play who led the Broncos to a borderline miraculous series of victories before coming back down to earth in the final three games of the season - all while gently but clearly proclaiming his Christian faith. And whatever else you may say about Tebow, no one would call him a hypocrite.
Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Steelers, has a Super Bowl victory under his belt and has his own list of late-game heroics, but he is also well-known for two ugly allegations of sexual assault.
So, for those who go in for such things, there's almost a ready-made "good versus evil" storyline here, right?
Wrong. Have a look at an interesting article that brings a little bit of gray into the equation.