Sports and “Veterans”

I follow football closely, and something that continually strikes me is how players who have been in the league for anywhere above 2 years are frequently referred to as “veterans.” Really? How long does it take to become a veteran? I just don’t get it. Apparently in football, it doesn’t take much to become a veteran. You just need to survive for two years of pro-level action and boom, you’re there!

Ridiculous.

Want to know what a veteran in the NFL looks like? How about an Urlacher or Ed Reed or Peyton Manning. Those are veterans.

It makes me think, though, the term “veteran” is abused. It’s not just something you get once you’ve reached a certain threshold of time put in; instead, it is something that you earn.

Of course I’m only speaking of sports here and certainly think anyone who served in the military deserves the term. Just to be sure I don’t get people thinking the wrong thing there.

Anyway, what does it take for you to call a sports player a “veteran”?

Thoughts on Prego’s “Bacon Provolone” Pasta Sauce

I’m a picky eater, much to the distress of my wife. One thing I do find, however, is that bacon is pretty much always awesome. She recently made me some cinnamon rolls with bacon inside them. Delicious.

Enter pasta. Now, I already said I’m picky, so that makes it hard for me to really enjoy pasta. I like a variety of sauces, but I don’t like anything too crazy… once we start to add too many green things or, heaven forbid, something horrifying like shrimp, I’m out. I don’t want to touch that. So how do we make pasta exciting? Well, I usually use liberal amounts of crushed red pepper. Yum. But then I saw a new Prego pasta sauce: “Bacon Provolone.” Uh… what!? I had to try it. I bought it and brought it home. We tried it shortly thereafter.

First, I’d say it isn’t what I thought at all. I figured it would either be amazing or terrible. It’s basically right in the middle. On a scale of 1-10 with 5 being truly average (i.e. don’t think of it as % in school), I’d give it a 5.5. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s not like I want to scrape my taste buds off with a razor afterwards or anything. It tastes like… well, tomatoes with some bacon and provolone cheese thrown in.

Second, why the smoke flavoring? I don’t really like smoke flavoring. For one thing, how on earth do you make smoke flavoring? Do they just burn something and mix it into my food? That is creepy. For another thing, it just really doesn’t taste that great. I take a bite and think “Great, I’m eating smoke.” Not wonderful. The sauce would have been better without it.

Third, how is this not amazing? I think that what it needs is to be in an alfredo (mmm… alfredo!). I would imagine that bacon thrown into some alfredo sauce would actually be quite amazing. The problem is that I try to get veggie servings out of my pasta sauce (because vegetables are disgusting), so I try to get tomato-based stuff. What a dilemma!

Well, that’s pretty much it. Have you tried it? Are you going to now because you can’t resist seeing what it’s like? Better yet, do you know of some amazing, readily available pasta sauce that I would love (remember: it needs to be available at major retailers and also have servings of veggies!)? Let me know… I’m begging you.

Redwall, Bonhoeffer, and one awesome dream.

redwallI had an awesome dream a few nights ago. Before I’d gone to work, I was paging through a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while* [see end of post for more info on the asterisked portions] and it mentioned another theological topic.** I remembered I once owned the book it cited*** and I wasn’t sure if I still had it (I thought I may have sold it). But then I had to leave for work so I wasn’t able to look for it. I got home very late and fell asleep pretty promptly (I am an expert at sleeping).

I then had the most wonderful dream in which I was desperately searching for the book that was cited in the other because I NEEDED it because… well, you know, books. I think there was some other desperate reason I needed to find it, but during the dream I felt the primary motivation was because I wanted to read it and I was really hoping I hadn’t sold it. I knew where to find it but I didn’t spot it. However, I did find a boxed set of the “Martin” storyline of Redwall books (if you don’t know them, you should–they’re wholesome, awesome, fascinating reads for young adults/children). These books were not actual Redwall books, though. They had titles like “King” and “Kingmaker” and “Mariel the Queen” [the last is most similar to an actual title]. They were in a gorgeous box set and they all featured art which looked like Redwall but they had a gold foil over them. Their spines combined to make a beautiful panoramic of Redwall Abbey and the surrounding forest.

But most importantly of all, there was a Redwall book titled “Bonhoeffer.” Yes, my subconscious concocted such a delightful fantasy as a Redwall novel in which one of the characters was a mouse styled after Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the wonderful German theologian who was executed by the Nazis for his opposition to Hitler. Oh yes! I can’t help but desire to flesh out his story more. Perhaps there was this little field mouse who stood up against the evil Wolf named Lupis Hitlerus or something like that. The Bonhoeffer mouse would have glasses like the man himself did, two circles, and he would look very German (or as German as a mouse can look). Lupis would be viciously persecuting red squirrels because he didn’t like how they looked. Bonhoeffer-mouse would defeat the Wolf in his own self-sacrificing death by inspiring others (probably badgers shouting “EULALIA!”) to come to whatever land he lived in and save the squirrels. Can you say EPIC FAN FICTION? I can.

As my wife noted, Bonhoeffer’s name could be “Bonhopper” and he could be a hare. However, my subconscious made him a mouse, and that is what I would envision him in Brian Jacques’ world. Though the name Bonhopper would be pretty fun…

Anyway, I did wake up and immediately pulled over a step stool to find the book that had been cited. So not only was the dream amazing, but I also actually did have the book! Fantastic!

What’s the strangest combination your subconscious has come up with for a dream?

*Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics: Law & Gospel & the Means of Grace by David P. Scaer

**The Third Use of the Law

***Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of Law in Modern American Lutheranism by Scott Murray

Check out my main page (J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason) or like me on Facebook for discussion of theology, philosophy, movies, apologetics, and more!

Football, sports, and violence: Should we use sports as a “hope” for children?

Recently, an article on ESPN about the violence in football offered the following explanation for why football will not go away:

It [the known effects of multiple concussions, etc.] also shouldn’t give people a reason to sell their kids on the notion that it’s not a sport worth playing. It’s easy to say that when you live in the White House or you’ve benefited from a nice, upper-middle class lifestyle. It’s a different story for those kids who grow up in inner-city projects or have few options of ever improving their own lives. Ask those families what football can do for them. Their parents won’t be so quick to condemn a sport that could open doors that would ultimately be closed to them later in life.

Really? Football is some kind of hope for kids with “few options”? I think this is absurd. How many of the kids who live on this dream actually grow up to play in the NFL? If the opportunity referenced is about scholarships there may be a point to it, but I think it is really depressing that when it comes to kids with few options, one of the first things that gets brought up is sports. I’m sorry, but sports is not a salve to these issues.

Giving kids the hope that they can play in the NFL or any other major sports league is not very realistic. I also think it sells children short. The general message that is given is that if you are born into a certain situation, the only way to pick yourself up out of that hard place is to play sports. Frankly, not everyone is gifted in sports, so this message presents a message of hopelessness.

So what do I suggest? Hey, I admit I am not an expert on this at all. I am not even sure I have any alternatives to suggest, but I think that we need to get beyond offering sports as a kind of dream. It’s not realistic to tell children that they can all go and be NFL stars or NBA stars or what-have-you. We need to work with children in their situation and work to change the situation. The salve for poverty and need is not to give a false hope that only one in thousands can even have a chance to achieve.

As a Christian, I have to say that we need to be praying about those in need. We need to use our gifts to forward the causes that help care for those who are in want. We need to get beyond offering false hopes and offer the true hope of Christ. I know for some that is groan-inducing. Allow me to explain: I’m not suggesting that just going around preaching the Gospel will magically reduce poverty and lead to world peace. What I am suggesting is that the Christian worldview, in all of its robust splendor, provides a motivation to care for those in need. It also provides a framework for viewing those in need not as people to whom we need to throw a bone in the form of false hope, but persons who are fellow imagers-of-God whom we are called to aid. There are no easy answers to all the needs of our time, but at least as Christians we are called to take on those needs head-on. I hope you’ll join me.

Finally, I’ll have you know that all of this comes from an avowed NFL fan. I love football. My point is we should not use it as a substitute for real hope.

Links

Don’t forget to check out my main site which focuses on religion, philosophy, and contemporary issues.

Here’s the article that touched off this issue for me: http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/8905129/super-bowl-xlvii-football-change-survive

 

Fiction can change your life. Also, answer me this.

matildaFiction can change your life.  Here, I’m specifically talking about books. It’s actually very easy: you read a book and you yourself are an open book, ready to ingest what the book tells you. You may not do it uncritically, but fiction has a way of catching you unawares.

I also know that fiction can change your life because it has done so for me. It has done so at least three times in major ways. The first was the book Matilda by Roald Dahl, which I consider one of the greatest masterpieces of children’s literature. The way that it changed my life was by opening my mind to a new understanding of the power of books to bring about emotions and love. Matilda was, for me,  almost an avatar of myself in literature. Her love of books mirrored my own. Did I have special powers? No. Was I in a horrible family situation? Absolutely not, my family is and was amazing. What Matilda did for me was to make me realize that the love of books was something almost necessary to my existence. It created in me a desire for fiction that still cannot be satiated. I admit that I have read this book more than any other. I think I have read it easily over 100 times. I used to grab it and a cup of tea (just like Matilda did!) when I was young and sit in my mom’s office at school and read the whole thing.

Another  book that changed my life was C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. I read this when I first began thinking very seriously about faith and Christianity in particular. I remember seeing this book in my dad’s collection and on others’ shelves, but always thought that it was just some boring old book about religion. Who cared? I read the book and realized that religion touches on every aspect of life. Lewis, for me, awakened a love of reading books about Christianity and religion, and he opened the doors for philosophy of religion as well. This fictional book has very much shaped my life in many ways over the past several years. Were it not for this book I probably would not be writing on Christian philosophy and apologetics at my other site.

ben hur bookFinally, the masterful Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace, a book which continues to inspire my vision of life.  Ben Hur is my favorite movie of all time, but I had never read the book. I mean the thing was written in 1880, so I figured that it didn’t really have any relevance today. How wrong I was. The book is simply astonishing in its scope. The tumultuous action, the beauty of romance, the bitterness of revenge, and the trials of faith are all portrayed vividly by Wallace throughout. However, it wasn’t so much the story itself that inspired me, but the fact that it opened my mind up to a whole new reality: books that weren’t written during my lifetime are relevant and awesome. I know, this seems absurd to deny, but it is easy to fall into this feeling that only those things written now are good. The things written in the past are just old fashioned and out of date. Ben-Hur changed that for me. It gripped me throughout and delighted me. I now often read “old” books and find I enjoy them greatly–often more than modern works of fiction and non-fiction.

Now, answer me this: have you ever read a book that has changed your life? If so, which book was it? How did it change your life. Leave me a comment to let me know. I want to know!

Star Wars and Disney: Match made in…. ?

I’m a gigantic Star Wars nerd. I sit here with my Boba Fett watch on, my keys in my pocket with the Boba Fett key chain, typing on the computer next to my Boba Fett bobble head, my Star Wars slurpee cup (change jar), with my Darth Maul blanket to keep me warm. My bedset is Star Wars, with the Millennium Falcon and an X-Wing on it. There’s a Boba Fett figure on my bookshelf, and my Christmas Tree will be covered with Star Wars ornaments. I’ve read every post-original movies Star Wars book. I’ve read a decent amount of the graphic novels.

I love Star Wars.

It has been said for years now. There will be no more Star Wars films. It gave me a sense of finality. Yes, the books will continue, and I love them, but the movies are over. Watching the original trilogy was part of my childhood that I would not have wanted to be without. I will never forget the sense of wonder when I first saw any Star Wars movie–it was Return of the Jedi, and I was watching it on my uncle’s couch. I saw Boba Fett and thought he was so cool (still do, obviously!), and the story was just amazing to me.

Now there is the news: Disney bought Lucasfilm, there will be new Star Wars movies.  Intial reaction: shock. I actually had trouble believing it is true.

But what does it mean for my beloved franchise? Will they follow the story in the sequel books? If so, how will they get actors to sign on for an endless string of movies? And where will they start? The Thrawn Trilogy? Oh my goodness. I just realized that is a possibility. Suddenly I’m more excited for something than I’ve been in a long time. I was already.

So, Disney bought Lucasfilm? I hate it. I love it! I hate it. I LOVE IT! Oh please let good things happen.

Here’s the thing though…. what if they ruin it? What if they go with some of my favorite books and then just destroy them? I know how I would feel:

Don’t forget, it you like my random musings here, check out my philosophical, theological, and apologetic arguments at Always Have a Reason. 

PBS’ Nature Episodes

My dear readers….

Few of you may know about my intense interested in everything. This blog is an expression of those eclectic interests.

One of the interests very dear to me is nature. I think the natural world displays a beauty and complexity which leads me towards awe and wonder at its Creator. Recently, I discovered that NPR has a great number of episodes on nature available in their entirety online: http://video.pbs.org/program/nature/

I watched the episode on there about Harpy Eagles and just loved it. I can’t stand monkeys–gross little critters if there ever were any–and these eagles eat monkeys. Yes, they’re that big. Awesome.

Another amazing episode was the one about wolverines. They’re such wild, amazing creatures. They can consume bones for nourishment and despite being small, they can take down very large prey. Wolverines climb all over mountains without even slowing down. Amazing.

Suffice to say, I have now found a great series to watch as I read. I love having them on in the background as I read philosophy/theology/history.

God’s creation is truly a majestic, wonderful canvas. I encourage you to learn more about it.