Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Japanese Human Tetris

I love Japanese game shows. I saw some Human Tetris on Ellen this morning. While some of you scoff at Ellen (Steve and Vanessa) and refuse to watch, I'm learning about the finer points of Japanese culture and catching a laugh. Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Gifts

I've read multiple blogs on the nasty consumerist nature of Christmas (a sentiment I'm in basic agreement with), and heard numerous sermons echoing that fact. There's even a movie about it. But, to be quite honest, the extremist nature of some of these messages have only left me feeling guilty. Guilt is quite different than conviction.

I enjoy giving gifts to those I love, and I don't think I'm alone on this one. So, I'm going to continue giving gifts, guilt-free.

At what point in history did Christmas giving become a quid pro quos operation? Why would I spend $30 on a gift for 'Bill' and expect him to give me a $30 gift in return? That's not a gift, that's an expectation. Pretty sure "Bill" would just assume I not give him a gift in the first place if I expect to receive a gift of equal value in return.

Scott McKnight has some really good thoughts on Christmas Gifts over at Jesus Creed. He writes, "We give worship to God at Christmas as regifting what God has given to us. We give gifts to others as regifting what God has given to us."

Merry Christmas. Enjoy time with family and loved ones and regift--guilt-free!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ronaldinho and Me

Haven't played soccer since 7th grade, but this would be my name if I played for Team Brazil. Try it yourself. Oh, and in case your wondering, Larry Bird's name would be, "Baldo".

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bill Clinton and Chris Webber

I know a lot of political conservatives who gag at the mention of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and I cannot understand why. It's one thing to disagree with a person's politics, it's quite another to judge an entire family's character. An entire segment of the right will characterize "Billary" as calculating, devious, and deceptive, which may be true, but how does that make them any different than your average politician? Surely amidst these qualities, which are most definitely exaggerated, lie honorable traits and intentions.

For instance, thanks to FreeDarko (via TrueHoop), I just learned Bill Clinton wrote a letter to Chris Webber after he blew the NCAA championship game against my Tarheels by calling a timeout, when the Wolverines had no timeouts left. The transcript of Clinton's letter is below:
Dear Chris,

I have been thinking of you a lot since I sat glued to the TV during the championship game.

I know that there may be nothing I or anyone else can say to ease the pain and discouragement of what happened.

Still, for whatever it's worth, you, and your team, were terrific. And part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error. I know. I have lost two political races and made countless mistakes over the last twenty years. What matters is the intensity, integrity, and courage you bring to the effort. That is certainly what you have done. You can always regret what occurred but don't let it get you down or take away the satisfaction of what you have accomplished.

You have a great future. Hang in there.

Sincerely, Bill Clinton
Some, who have already decided the character of the Clintons will dismiss this as another shrewd political move, probably done to woo the Wolverine electorate. Seriously, though, where does that line of thinking end? Can't a Clinton just be nice? After all what kind of person would write a book advising people on how to change the world through giving? What a jerk.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

God Is Not a Narcissist

"God came to earth to glorify himself." This is a message I first heard from friends who attended Bethlehem Baptist a few years ago. This church is led be John Piper, an very influential Reformed minister. It was during my formative years at Bethel College, and it rubbed me the wrong way. God became human, sacrificed himself, in order that he would be glorified? Um, where's the unconditional love in that?

Though I never truly accepted that teaching, it left a dent in my faith. Until now. Thank you Ben Witherington.
I suppose we should not be surprised that in a culture and age of narcissism, we would recreate God in our own self-centered image, but it is surprising when we find orthodox Christians, and even careful scholars doing this.
"For God so loved himself?" Is God a Narcissist?

Did Christ Come to Please Himself?

UPDATE (12-05-07): John Piper has posted a response to Ben Witherington's critique. Read it here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Projecting the 2010 Twins

New Twins GM Bill Smith has already made his first bold move by trading his #1 organizational prospect Matt Garza to the Devil Rays for Delmon Young and speculation is rampid that Johan Santana will be dealt soon. In case you've been on another planet for the past few weeks, the Red Sox and Yankees have entered a bidding war for the two time Cy Young winner. Below are two possible opening day lineups for 2010, the year the Twins open their new ballpark, should the Twins trade Johan to the Red Sox or Yankees

Rumored trade with the Yankees: Phil Hughes (rhp), Melky Cabrera (cf), and a minor leaguer

Alexi Casilla (2b/ss)
Melky Cabrera (cf)
Joe Mauer (c)
Delmon Young (lf)
Justin Morneau (1b)
Michael Cuddyer (rf)
Chris Parmalee/Jason Kubel (dh)
Matt Moses (3b)
Brendan Harris (2b/ss)

Francisco Liriano (lhp)
Phil Hughes (rhp)
Glen Perkins (lhp)
Kevin Slowey (rhp)
Anthony Swarzak (rhp)

Rumored trade with Red Sox: Jon Lester (lhp), Coco Crisp (cf), Jed Howrie (ss), and a minor leaguer, rumored to be Michael Bowden (rhp)

Alexi Casilla (2b)
Coco Crisp (cf)
Joe Mauer (c)
Delmon Young (lf)
Justin Morneau (1b)
Michael Cuddyer (rf)
Chris Parmalee/Jason Kubel (dh)
Jed Howrie (ss)
Matt Moses (3b)

Francisco Liriano (lhp)
Jon Lester (lhp)
Kevin Slowey (rhp)
Glen Perkins (lhp)
Anthony Swarzak (rhp)

The centerpiece of both deals are the starting pitchers, Hughes and Lester. Of the two, Hughes is considered to be a better prospect, a surefire ace. However, the Red Sox deal fills more needs with the inclusion of Howrie, who tore up the minors with his bat this past season. Brendan Harris will probably become a utility player, or part of another trade, and Matt Moses (3b), the Twins first round pick in 2003, is starting to look like a bust. Once Billy Smith completes his trade with the Yankees or the Red Sox, it doesn't mean his work is finished: He still has more holes to fill in order to field a competitive team in 2010. So, while the focus is on the Santana sweepstakes now, don't be surprised if Smith puts Joe Nathan on the block to fill those remaining infield holes.

UPDATE (12-02-07): Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Lavelle E. Neal III writes that the Twins are willing to hold on to Santana if the Yankees or Red Sox do not add an additional tier one prospect to their original offers. The prospects mentioned in the piece are Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury for the Sox and Ian Kennedy for the Yanks. Although, I have to believe the Twins would accept Jose Tabata or Austin Jackson if the Yanks were to include either in their offer.