Monday, May 28, 2007

Take me out to the ballgame

Last night I went to Comerica Park to catch the Tigers-Indians game. My good friends Don and Jennifer graciously invited me and we met another friend of ours named Curt who now lives in SE Michigan. It was the perfect weather, the perfect seats and the perfect company.

The four of us used to regularly spend time together. In fact, this group was my lifeblood for about a 2 year period. We became close during vacation bible school week at the church. Curt and I had foolishly volunteered to help without having a clue what to do with the young rascals. Don and Jennifer had us over each night to help us put a lesson plan together. Thus our group was formed.

Our friendship produced a lot of game nights, watching reality TV and tasty meals together. This was a good time in my life. Even though we all had different personalities and goals I appreciated these three because they understood me and I knew they enjoyed my company.

But alas things change. Jennifer went graduate school and took on a more time consuming job. Curt got married and moved away. Don and I still get together occasionally to golf or play risk but it's not as often as I wish. I don't go to church with them anymore so I don't have the regular contact.

That's what made last night so much fun. It was like a family reunion. We all picked up right where we left off. I like those familiar type of relationships. Yeah the game was entertaining but the real entertainment of the night was visiting with old friends.

Monday, May 21, 2007

John "Big Money" Edwards

In the past I have spent most of my time bashing Obama. In the interest of fair play I decided to take a swipe at John Edwards.

I just read an article that listed Edward's speaking fees that he charged last year. Apparently he spoke at a public college in California on the issue of poverty. Guess how much they paid him? $10,000? $25,000? Nope not even close. He got $55,000 to speak at that college. I guess he needed the money to afford another one of his $400 haircuts.

This is typical liberal hypocrisy and exactly the reason that while being a bleeding heart, I am not a liberal. If Edwards is so interested in helping the oppressed why doesn't he give his own damn money to the poor instead of raising taxes and taking money from the rest of us. Why should I pay for his unproven ideas to "end poverty" while he lives a lifestyle of the rich and famous?

The best leaders are those who practice what they preach. As soon as Edwards puts his money where his mouth is, I'll give his words the due attention they deserve. Until then he is just another phony politician.

You don't know what love is

A couple days ago my friend Craig called me to complain about his ex girlfriend getting engaged. It's a conversation he and I have had before but usually it's about my ex girlfriends getting married. Having a woman you've been in love with get married to another man is one of the perils of dating.

The worst example of this was when Liz got married in 2002. She and I had dated for almost 2 years and she is the only woman that I have even considered getting married to. During our relationship I introduced her to friends of mine from college and she immediately hit it off with them. Her friendship with them continues still today.

I was staying with these same friends during the 2002 campaign. It was a great arrangement up until the day of Liz's wedding. They had been invited to the wedding and that morning as they were getting ready the wedding I was getting ready for work. It was a bit surreal knowing that they were going to her wedding and it didn't include me.

On my way to yet another parade that day, I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing Kurt Elling and playing some of his songs. I remember they played You Don't Know What Love Is which is about loving someone you had to lose. It was the perfect song for the perfect moment. I eventually bought his CD and have loved his music ever since but that song has a special place in my memory.

I say all this not to share yet another tragic dating story but to tell Craig that I can definitely relate to what he is going through. The good news is that I hardly ever think about Liz anymore and have dated several woman since that time. I guess time does allow those old feelings to pass away. However, the memory of those feelings keeps hope alive that I may yet again have that same romantic passion toward someone new.

To listen to the song visit this link:

Friday, May 18, 2007

The War List

My Uncle Brian recently emailed me a list of his favorite movie scenes. It was entertaining to learn which scenes he liked best. It was also revealing that he has way to much time on his hands. But that's a different matter altogether.

His email got me to thinking about some of my favorite scenes. Probably my favorite movie is Chariots of Fire and there is one scene that gives me chills every time I watch it. The setting is the dining hall of Caius College at Cambridge University, and the year is 1919, just after the end of World War I. The dean of the college is addressing the new freshmen at their first formal dinner. Here are his words:

"I take the war list and I run down it. Name after name, which I cannot read, and which we who are older than you cannot hear, without emotion; names which will be only names to you, the new college, but which to us summon up face after face, full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigor, and intellectual promise; the flower of a generation, the glory of England; and they died for England and all that England stands for. And now by tragic necessity their dreams have become yours. Let me exhort you: examine yourselves. Let each of you discover where your true chance of greatness lies. For their sakes, for the sake of your college and your country, seize this chance, rejoice in it, and let no power or persuasion deter you in your task."

I always wish I could speak as eloquently as the dean does in this scene. And of course, the rest of the movie hinges on these student's pursuit of their true chance of greatness. But lately I have been considering the contrast between the public remembrance of England's war heroes during this scene with America's response to today's war heroes. Do we have a war list in our finest colleges honoring the students who sacrificed their lives and their futures? I find it hard to believe that many Harvard or Yale students would even consider joining the military to make such a sacrifice let alone having the dean of the college honor them.

Along the same point, I was watching MASH last night which is basically anti-war propaganda but still one of my favorite all time shows. Hawkeye was reminiscing about all the good songs that came out of World War 2. He then starts singing I'll be home for Christmas and it is a fairly powerful scene. It then dawned on me that we have no such songs coming out of the war in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Maybe the older wars are mythologized and the public felt the same way then that we feel now towards our current war. But something is very different between now and then. That difference is that we as a country have not been called upon to sacrifice and participate in the war efforts. This had led to our our greatest weakness in this war, which is not the chaos overseas but instead our collective unwillingness to fully embrace and commit to the cause here at home.

Instead we sit back in our comfort and discuss the war's successes or failures in terms of who it helps politically. We treat the war as news and entertainment rather than as the true battle of cultures that it really is. We are not united by a common cause. Is this because we do not have the same sense of community that our country had during World War 1 and 2? Do we have too much immediate information on TV and the Internet that it blurs our perspective on the war? I know some will blame the President for Iraq but that doesn't fully explain our lack of interest in Afghanistan.

It's a shame that our culture has become so divided because I want us to remember and honor our current war heroes the same way the dean honors his former students in Chariots of Fire. Our troops really are the glory of America and deserved to be remembered as such. Instead I fear that they will be remembered as nothing more than political pawns in an unpopular war.

Monday, May 14, 2007


This weekend the sermon was about how we as a church can work to help the oppressed. So often it is easy to forget that millions of people around the world have no access to food, clean water, health care and basic shelter. I know in my own life I get distracted by my desires to live the normal middle class life instead of focusing on how I can help those in need.

Perhaps the greatest area of need is in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Currently, the government is using militias to commit genocide against its own people and plundering their belongings. The best information estimates that over 2 million people have been displaced and 400,000 people have been killed. It's one of the worst human rights violations since world war 2. What's sad but not surprising is that nobody in the west really seems to care. The travesty in Darfur is under reported and our country's response has been underwhelming in terms of demanding an end to the violence. I just read this morning that the UN's peacekeeping force has been ineffective and is on the verge of pulling back due to safety concerns.

What is causing this lack of interest? Is it because we think this is just Africa being Africa? Would we be more concerned if this were happening in Europe? Maybe the media is to blame for our ignorance and if we only knew more, we would do more? Is it because it seems so hopeless and overwhelming that we don't know where to start or how to help? Whatever the reason, we as a church are called to take action.

What can we do? My church is committing a portion of our tithes to World Relief which is a Christian organization that provides food and medical help in Darfur. I would encourage you to talk with your local church about doing the same or consider donating yourself. Here is their website:

Additionally, I would encourage you to write congress and the president asking them to take stronger action against the corrupt Sudan government. Remind them that our country has a history of standing up for those around the world who are persecuted and we have a moral obligation to put an end to this genocide.

Finally and most importantly is prayer. I know this sounds cliche but those families in Darfur deserve our attention and our prayers. I firmly believe that if every American Christian sincerely prayed for the people of Darfur that we would see a dramatic end to the violence.

For more information on Darfur I would encourage to watch this video:

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jamie Cullum

The other day I was on trying to find some new music to listen to. What I like about their site is you can pick an artist that you currently like or own and then they offer suggestions of similar artists that you might like. After a couple pages of searching, I came across a guy named Jamie Cullum. I had never heard of him before but I decided to check him out. He is a young British guy that is a mix between Harry Connick and Billy Joel. His music is considered vocal jazz I guess but it's much more unique than that. So I bought his CD and have been grooving with it ever since. What I like most about it is that his voice is in the perfect range for me to see along too. The following are couple links if you want to check out some of his stuff. Enjoy.


The following story is why Sam Brownback will never be President. Well at least one reason.


A couple weeks ago I began to sense that I needed to pray more. At the same time, I attended a meeting at our church that was designed to address ways to make improvements. At that meeting my initial thoughts were we should do more advertising and programs. But before I could speak up, the Lord reminded me that we should increase our prayer time. I didn't tell anybody at that meeting but the next week my pastor mentioned to me that he was feeling convicted to pray more and wanted us to become a church of prayer. It was no coincidence that we were both being led in the same direction.

As a result, we have started holding prayer meetings before our worship service and I am in charge of leading them. We spent the first week praying through Psalm 51. I chose this passage because I was feeling the need to confess my own sins but also because I wanted us a church to confess our sins before we moved forward with our numerous prayer requests. It was a powerful time. Afterwards a friend of mine who was at the prayer time but not yet a Christian took me aside and confessed some sins in his life. I love how the spirit convicts people without anybody having to say a word. The sermon that night was on David and Psalm 51. I had no idea but again we were on the same page and it was obvious that God had planned it ahead of time.

The following week's prayer time was not as powerful for some reason. We started late and it felt a little rushed and forced. Tonight we meet again and I feel like I need to replicate the same feelings we had the first night. But I woke up this morning with a sense of relief that my only responsibility is to create an atmosphere of prayer and that the Lord will do the rest. I sometimes feel inadequate that I am leading the prayer time and wished I knew how to pray better. Then I realize that praying is not a matter of performance but a matter of the heart. I can lay out relevant topics or use flowery words but without a sincere longing to simply dwell in God's presence it doesn't much matter. So tonight I hope to lay out that example and invite others to join with me in enjoying His presence.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The French Election

Over the weekend, France elected a new President. His name is Nicolas Sarkozy and he represents the best opportunity to rebuild relations with France in a long while. He is a conservative who has promised to be a friend of America. In fact, in his victory speech he sounded more pro America than some of the Democrats in our own country.

The election was hotly contested but in the end he beat Socialist candidate Segolene Royal by about 6 percentage points. In typical left wing fashion, the supporters of Royal took to the streets in violence after losing at the ballot box. I am sick of "demonstrators" both here and abroad who act like babies every time they don't get want they want.

What's interesting is that the media, which is usually fascinated with our reputation and relationship with Europe, seems to care less about this election. It is because Sarkozy doesn't hate America and George Bush and he doesn't fit their tired storyline of anti-Americanism. If the Socialist had won I am sure they would have done a huge profile of her in the New York Times and used her election as a sign of how out of step we are with the rest of the world.

Regardless of the media, let's hope that Sarkozy's election is the beginning of new era of Franco American friendship. We could use his voice in Europe, especially with Tony Blair leaving office.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

feliz cinco de mayo

Today is a fantastic day for sports fans. Later tonight is the 133rd Kentucky Derby. I love the Derby and it might be the most exciting two minutes in sports. I haven't decided who I like to win just yet but I am leaning towards Curlin even though he won't offer much of a payout as he is the likely favorite. Curlin has an impressive if short resume and could be this year's Barbaro. My other horse to watch is Any Given Saturday as long as the pace isn't too fast at the start.

Then at 7 tonight the Bulls and Pistons finally start their series. It seems like it's been a month since they each finished their last game. This rivalry reminds me of the good old days when Dumars would shut down Jordan and show him just who was boss in the Eastern Conference. I expect this to be a competitive series this year but the Pistons will win. The Bulls rely too much on the Jump shot and they don't have the athletic advantage over the Pistons that they did have against the Heat.

The final and maybe best event is the Mayweather-DeLaHoya boxing match. It could be a classic and some are billing it as the match that could save boxing. Mayweather is a flat out stud and the Golden Boy is the most over hyped athlete since Michael Jordan. I expect Mayweather to win a decision only because I don't know if he has enough power to knock him out at this weight. Regardless it should be super fight. I just wish it was on regular TV. Instead I have to find a sports bar that's showing the fight. Pay per view killed boxing. I hope the NFL doesn't go down the same road but I fear they are.

Enjoy the sporting festivities. I know I will.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Last night's debate

Unlike most of the normal people in the country, I actually watched all of the Republican presidential debate. Well except when I was in the kitchen making dinner for about 10 minutes. Regardless here are my initial observations.

Before I give my winners and losers can we please stop talking about Ronald Reagan. Reagan was great for his time but new times call for new leadership. I want the next President to be his own person. It seemed like every time somebody would answer a question they would drop Reagan's name. It was annoying. I doubt anybody decided to vote for Duncan Hunter because he reminded them of Reagan.

The winner was Mitt Romney. I thought he came across very well. He has the look of a president and even though his answers were safe and scripted, I thought he sounded comfortable. McCain tried mightily to be passionate but it came across as phony to me. I think he truly wants to recapture the magic of the 2000 campaign but it's not happening. Giuliani did okay except for the abortion issue. He is trying to cut it both ways without changing his position. As much as I disagree with him, he would be better off just admitting he's pro choice and go after those voters. Let the rest of the field divvy up the pro lifers.

The second tier candidates were a little muddled. I thought Tommy Thompson gave the best answers of the entire field but he has kind of a scowl and doesn't come across that well. Huckabee was more folksy but a little light on substance. Gilmore was decent but kind of got lost in the shuffle. If things hold steady any of them could be the VP selection.

The losers were the bottom tier candidates. Ron Paul was wacky. I am not even sure why he was invited. Tom Tancredo was a disaster last night. He had a hard time putting two sentences together. Brownback was uninspiring and I have a hard time remembering anything Duncan Hunter said.

The format of the debate was hideous. First of all it wasn't a debate. Second it was dominated by Chris Matthews who I actually like but I wanted to hear more from the candidates and less from him. Third, the questions were ridiculous; What don't you like about America? Would you pardon Scooter Libby? Would you hire Karl Rove? Do you want Bill Clinton in the whitehouse? These are not serious issues and just wasted every one's time.

What I would like to see in the future is a serious round table discussion on particular topics. Have Tim Russert moderate it. The first could be on the war. Allow the candidate to talk to one another and give them more 30 seconds to answer. The next round tables could be on health care reform, education, social issues, the environment, taxes or whatever. I think that type of format would actually help inform voters as opposed to what we watched last night.

To sum up, the big three did okay but probably didn't gain or lose any ground. Although Romney might see a little spike. I doubt that anybody from the lower tier moved up to the point of competing with Romney, McCain or Giuliani. Somewhere Fred Thompson is smiling.