Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Wept

A Precis of Sorts


I'm not a minister. The thought of being one has occurred to me in the past, but it's not really something I look back upon and contemplate as a road not taken. It simply wasn't in the cards for me to be a priest. And yet tonight I have been thinking about what I would say if I was giving a sermon this Sunday. I am not sure where the need to write this is coming from, but it's there all the same. So here goes. By the way, I'll spare you the usual formalities from The Book of Common Prayer, so don't worry about knowing when to kneel, stand, etc.


Peace be with you.

The passage I would like to talk about this morning comes from the Book of John, chapter 11, verse 35. It will take you far longer to find it than it will to read it so let me save you the trouble.

Jesus wept.

Short, bittersweet and to the point. Jesus, who was the human incarnation of God, experienced something we all encounter and behaved- no, it was more genuine than that, it wasn't just rote behavior, he felt. His heart broke and he did what many of us do when we grieve, he cried.

In the context of the narrative, he wept when he heard that his friend, Lazarus, had died. And then, being Jesus, he performed a miracle, taught a lesson and moved on. It's a great story about friendship and the healing power of faith but the most important lesson we can take from that passage, which by the way is John 11:1-44 isn't that Jesus can raise the dead.

Let me explain. I promise I'll try to keep it short. As Christians, you know that the Bible, particularly the New Testament is intended to be a guide for living. And as Christians, you know that we are to look to the Bible to gain an understanding of how we are supposed to be if we are to be Christ-like.

Let me get a quick show of hands. How many people here this morning can raise the dead? Hunh. Me neither. So if we can't raise the dead what part of Jesus' example are we supposed to follow?

Jesus wept.

We cannot mourn or feel loss or weep tears of real pain for others if we don't see them as fully human. If we don't value them as much as we value ourselves, what does that make us? Monsters. To deny anyone their rights as a human being is monstrous. In those two words from the Book of John, we're given in no uncertain terms the example to follow, that we are to be human and humane and recognize the humanity in others and respond in a loving manner that is truly Christ-like.

I think Jesus and the authors of the Bible knew that some of us can be a little thick, so they spelled it out in even plainer terms further along in the same book. John 13:34-35, don't worry about looking it up right now, but I do want you to keep it in mind for contemplation later on. Where was I? In John 13:34-35 , Christ says: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another." He didn't add any clauses or make exceptions or suggest that his love is exclusive or can be repealed or withheld based on certain conditions. He said, "love one another as I have loved you." Who are we to assume that any person or group would not be loved by Christ and would you want to follow someone who would withhold their love?

Right now there are people who are trying to withhold the rights of your friends, your neighbors, your brothers, your sisters, you fellow humans. They do this in the name of Christianity. They need, as we all do, to step back from Christianity and look deeper into the personality and spirit of Christ. People love to ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" I can't help but think that he has to look at us sometimes, do a facepalm and say, "I've already told you."

Thanks for hearing me out this morning. Now let's finish this up and get out of here before the Baptists get all the good tables at The Pancake Pantry.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Secrets of Southern Women Revealed: Pleeeease Don't Tell My Mom I Wrote This!

"You write like a girl."

That was the message from my mom after she got caught up on my blog."

"What?" I laughed, admittedly a little indulgently, but yeah, I laughed. Then she threw down the gauntlet.

"Build me a blog. I can do better."

"What?"

"I sent you to college and that's the only word you know now? You're too nice. I'll be more honest."

"Mom, I'm honest. It's just that I write about stuff I like."

She gave me The Look. So I built her a blog. And I have to admit she's definitely telling it like it is in the world according to "Dirtsister". The thing is, if you met her she would come across as the sweetest, most genteel, well read lady to have ever drawn breath. However there's this dirty little secret about Southern Women: When it comes to sports, they can bring the haterade like nobody's business.

There's no reason this should have come as a surprise. I grew up in a Dallas Cowboys Tom'n'Roger household and God help you if you even looked like you were going to offer aid and comfort to the Washington Redskins or their fans. To be honest, I thought that this was a football thing or a seventies thing or some other kind of thing that was a part of the past.

And then the NHL All-Stars Game happened and my mother got her first look at Alexander Ovechkin.

"I don't like him." she said, "He looks like a smart aleck. Do you like him?"

"Well, he's creative on the ice and he's always fun to watch."

Mom watched him and frowned.

"Who does he play for?" she asked.

"Washington." I said.

"I knew it!" She barked.

From then on Ovi8 became Boris Badunov to her Moose and Squirrel. Lucky for him, the regular season was over and the Caps had fallen to Balder/Buddha/Jesus/Insert your deity of choice here Sidney Crosby and the Mighty Opii before she'd started her blog. Her laser-like gaze of white hot sports hate was turned to one team and one team only, The Red Wings*.

She hates them all. She hates their fans. She hates their color commentators. It's an ambient kind of hate beam that falls on anything dressed in red and white that skates around a puck. Oh, every now and then she'll narrow her focus. There was the time she submitted Michael Babcock's picture to the "Women Who Look Like Old Lesbians" blog. And there's her thing about Marian Hossa. This dates back to Marian's first fight as a Red Wing. It was with her beloved Ryan Suter. You don't mess with Suter. (Or Pekka, or "Little Ryan"** or Erat...) So now, the big red-headed guy, (I know...Which one???) is known in Mom's world as "Mary Ann Hoser".

You think it's scary reading about this? Today she actually demanded to know if I liked the Red Wings.

"Please don't hurt me." I murmured.

"Well?"

"It's five months until the regular season starts."

"Get out of my house."

She's calmed down, but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe they'll give me a nifty Preds gimme shirt when I graduate from re-education camp.


Want to visit Dirtsister's blog? She'd love to see you there!

OFF MY CHEST (because everyone is entitled to my opinion)


*Okay, being a Nashville Predators fan means that admitting any weakness for the Wheels'n'Wings will lead to eight weeks in a re-education center where you spend twelve hours a day eating raw meat and looking at old beefcake photos of Jason Arnott while an audio loop that says "Honestly, we love you, Sully! Please don't go!" plays nonstop until the lights go out and you are allowed to sleep on a Kroger Green Bag on the damp concrete floor of the site of the Union Station train shed for three minute intervals until the sun comes up. In other words, I am engaging in risky behavior here...

I like the Red Wings.

There. I said it.

** Ryan Jones. It doesn't matter that he might be bigger or older or have more years in pro hockey. Suter was first to the Preds roster so Jones will always be "Little Ryan". Welcome to the South.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Saturday, May 23, 2009

TV Review: Glee

The Deets
What: Glee
When: Coming This Fall
Where: Fox
As of this writing you can get the first episode free from Amazon or watch it online at Fox's website or at the Glee entry on IMDB





Who knew I'd start the summer writing TV reviews, especially right in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Bear with me. You're gonna like this one. So let's talk "Glee".

"Glee" is the latest show from Ryan Murphy, the creative force behind the reptilian charms of "Nip/Tuck" and the heart and soul of high school as presented by the kids of "Popular". To say that it's a sitcom about a high school glee club is like saying "Seinfeld" was a show about nothing. That may be how it looks on paper and I could start describing the plot to you and you could probably finish every sentence. Hey! Let's try that!

Me: So there's this jock and the teacher sponsoring the glee club finds out he has a great voice and gets him to join the club -

You: ...and his team mates find out and give him an ultimatum where he has to choose between football and singing. Oh, and he rescues one of the geekier people from the jocks and makes a speech about being true to himself or something like that and...

Oh yeah, the plot could be telegraphed from my front porch to Chattanooga without any technological assistance. But here's the thing, Murphy and the writers and the cast sell this so well that you can't help but fall in love with it, bless it's cliched heart. There is an equal amount of tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with the kind of overly earnest face-palm worthy moments that go with being in or working at a high school. This works because while everyone is in on the joke (for the the most part, and I'll talk about that in a minute) they are aware that the moments, the desires, the whole awkward, goofy gestalt is what it is and you either love it or you don't.

If I have one quibble, it's that the "all athletes are stupid and mean" trope is getting old. (Getting? How about past gone?) I sincerely hope we see some of that tempered with more than one guy seeing the light.

The bottom line? I love it and think you will, too. Go to the Fox link in the deets and see what I (and your teen daughters and recovering drama/music geek friends) will be talking about this fall.

If you're too pressed for time to watch the whole preview, here's another taste of the show. Call me an easily manipulated simp, but this gave me goosebumps:



copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

TV Review: Fourth and Long

The Deets
Where: Spike TV
When: Mondays @ 10 eastern, 9 central
episode 1 is also available on the website




"Let me make this perfectly clear. This is a football tryout camp. I don't want to hear any of that (deleted) about a reality TV show."
-Michael Irvin


Thus begins Spike TV's newest series, "Fourth and Long". So does Spike make good on Irvin's promise?

Thank goodness, yes! This show is football, football, football and more football. No stupid challenges. No middle school drama. This is about seeing who has the ability and the heart to play pro ball. The premise is simple: twelve men whose careers in football might have ended too early are given a second, possibly final chance to play on an NFL team. They are put through a series of grueling exercises and then based on their performances, one person will be eliminated each episode. So far there is no one on the show who makes you wonder if they were cast to make good television. So if you're looking for Survivor on astroturf, this might not be the show for you. If you want to see what it takes to make an NFL contender, tune in, you won't be disappointed. Beautifully shot, purposefully and perfectly cast, exciting...It gets two thumbs way up from me.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

FAIL! Mission Aborted Due To Donkey Pee and Toddlers

This morning I told Alice there was going to be a petting zoo at the East Nashville Farmer's Market thingie. I went on to mention that it would be fun for the kids and that I planned on getting some pictures of critters to use as models for drawing.

First she snorted and then she said that if she wanted Evan and Ryan to track animal poop in the house, she could take them to her parents' farm in Franklin, where her mother could get the satisfaction of exacting revenge for her own overly girl nature by making darned sure no poop in the field went unsquished before they were sent home.

I argued that they could pet them from outside of the pen, which was how I planned to take pictures.

"Besides," she said, "You won't be able to get one picture without someone's tot wandering into the shot."

So very true. My attempt at getting a picture of the bigger animals as they emerged from the trailer was blocked by an irate, bespectacled mother who stood in front of my camera and glared at me like an ostrich who has just caught a meerkat stealing one of her eggs.

As the animals skittered over to the farmer while I was trying to snap, my mother made the observation that I was going to have to suck it up and go into the pen. I was right on the cusp of agreeing with her when the miniature donkey stopped, looked very pensive and then released nine gallons of urine into the middle of the pen. A minute later, a small boy gleefully splashed through it. No. Just...no. Further attempts were scuttled by a wee, cute girl who kept jumping in front of me and shouting, "Hi!". Oy.

Honestly, I wouldn't blame any parent for being concerned when a stranger is nearby snapping pictures. What had me thinking "wha...?" was the parent who accosted us on the way back to the car. I figured she was upset and quite rightfully protective of whichever child was hers. I explained that I was trying to get pictures of the animals, particularly the pig and the chickens for an art project and then she demanded to know why I didn't like children.

You win, Alice.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Honk! A Word or Five About Driving

This is not my blog post about driving. This is a brief word to Kevin and Tasha, who vetted this essay before I posted it. Guys, I had no idea that "gerbil" was already in use as a verb. Here's what I mean by "gerbiling":



In other words, it's the act of stuffing one's cheeks to the point that they pooch out. You've seen Alice's boys' gerbils, Arnott and Tootoo, do that when we give them treats. BTW, Arnott and Tootoo are female. You want to tell Alice's boys? Me neither.

This is my blog piece about driving:

I have this friend who ended up working in Egypt right out of college. He told me that people over there use their car horns as a substitute for the brake pedal. I'm trying to imagine the typical Cairo driver trying that in Nashville and thinking he might get, oh, fifty feet before he ended up turtled on a median. It's not that we don't use our horns here. In fact, take more than a milisecond to be sure oncoming traffic has truly stopped before turning and you'll hear a chorus of beeps and honks that will make you wonder if someone has put a "Honk if you're irritable!" sticker on your bumper. Drivers around here also tend to use their horns to show support for various demonstrations on the hoof. I'll happily honk to show my love when people are waving signs. No problem. It's kinda fun.

What isn't fun is the honking I had to do yesterday. Twice. Have I said argh? Argh. How do I put this? People get on the road and they're pointing and shooting this large mass of glass, metal and plastic at speeds of at least 40mph in town and you would think that would be sufficient to keep them fully engaged. No. Yesterday a couple in a van were arguing and on cell phones and driving. They whipped around the cars ahead of them and in and out of lanes, didn't like where they were, and whipped in and out again. Rinse and repeat. I finally held my breath, honked until I saw both heads swivel in my direction and then pulled around them (they were stopped kitty cornered across two lanes) so I could be on my way. Thirty minutes later a guy in a truck pulled out into the middle of an intersection, stopped and proceeded to unwrap and gerbil a hamburger as big as his head. When the light changed and it was my turn, I waited a minute for him to move on. Much to the displeasure of the people behind me, he was too engrossed with his food to move and so I had to honk until he looked up so I would be sure he wasn't going to suddenly realize where he was and T-bone me.

This is frustrating to me because it makes me feel like I'm coming off as ragey when I am in fact terrified. I know, it's all fun and games and texting and eating food the missus won't let you have because you're on nine medications until someone gets hurt. I don't want that someone to be me or anyone else for that matter. So here's the thing. Driving just is not conducive to multitasking. If you have something better to do than drive, please go do it. The road will still be there when you're finished.


copyright 2009 Jas Faulkner

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Hard Fall (Anaheim-Detroit 5-14-09)

With the Darth Ovechkin - Sid the Kid drama resolved (for now), the next biggest story of the Conference Semi-Finals played out to it's conclusion last night at the Joe Louis Arena. The tension between the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings had been been building from the beginning of the series. Anaheim had taken down Mighty Joe Thornton and the Sharks and having tasted blood, were going after Detroit with the same predatory zeal. It was one of those series where there were no easy wins, no clear winners until the end.

When a series gets that intense, it gets personal. Messages were sent at the end of Game Six, so it was inevitable that Game Seven was going to be sixty minutes that felt more like an allnight pick-up on pond ice. The tough games keep you on the edge of your seat, especially when there are no clear winners until the clock runs out. When that happens you either feel exhilaration for the white hats or something akin to Snoopy's "Curse you, Red Baron" as those bastards show unseemly glee at the expense of good people everywhere.

The losers tend to fade into the plexi. Maybe they want to. You'll see some disappointment, but what you get for the most part is stoicism and lots of game face. Either they've worked as hard as they could and still got outplayed or they were having an off night and the drive wasn't there. You know it and they know it and yet there's that look away dynamic that makes you not quite connect with the loss as much as you ever will with the win.

Maybe that's why it was difficult to watch Anaheim's Jonas Hiller last night. From ten minutes into the first period on, you could see his game wasn't gelling the way he wanted it to. The saves seemed too hard won and every Detroit goal was soul-crushing and we saw every bit of it on Hiller's face. When he took that hard hit at the shank end of the second period, many would argue that it was time to give the guy a break and plug in Giguere.

Was playing on dumb? Was it brave? Maybe at ice level any other course of action was no longer an option. No matter what it was, Hiller gave everyone a taste of what it must be like to get so far and no further and be aware of it while you're in the moment. No one but the guys on the ice can really know how that feels, but just getting that glimpse into being one of the people who has to skate through the line and congratulate the winners after such a long, hard slog was like a punch in the gut.

copyright 2009 Jas Faulkner

Saturday, May 09, 2009

No, Honey, That's Not A Hat Trick. Now Please Let Me Hear What The Man With The Bad Hair Is Saying About Cam Ward

Okay, so your significant other or your kid or your best friend or your parent has been spending hours in front of the television watching what you thought was an endless festival of Roadrunner cartoons. When you took a closer look, you didn't see Wile E. Coyote. There was just a bunch of men in matching sweaters chasing something that resembled one of your chain smoking Aint Maude's burned biscuits into a net. At critical moments, your beloved has screamed "Friggin' DUCKS!" Your kid did a couple of afternoons in detention for getting into a fight with the child of a Titans booster over the relative coolness of Finland. My friend, if this is happening to you, you need to face facts: hockey is now a part of your life.

In this blog post, I'm gonna link you to some excellent online sources so you can get up to speed and start talking to your loved ones again.

The Basics:

Need a crash course on the game? Here are some sites that will give you a better understanding of what you're looking at.

One of the best places to start is at the NHL's site. At first blush, it looks like People Magazine and Sports Illustrated made a baby. Actually it's one of the more user friendly pro league sites out there with easy to find access to all of the official team pages and good quick-see breakdowns of scores and standings.

Their education pages, found at the NHL Learning Center, might be a little confusing for absolute beginners. It's a bit like being dropped into a 200 level class at mid-term when you're a starting freshman.

Your best bet would be to start with your hometown (or favorite) team's page to see if they offer any introductory material about hockey. Keep in mind that teams in nontraditional markets often have better online resources. Maybe this is because hockey is relatively new to the city culture. This might explain why my hometown and favorite team, the Nashville Predators, has a pretty great intro to hockey site called Predators University. Prejudiced? Moi? Shirley, you jest.

Okay, I have to admit that some of the other teams have very good sites. One of the best is Florida's 101 page. I was also pretty impressed by the organization of Dallas' 101 section. Looking at the different team pages is also a great way to be an online sports tourist. You learn something new and see the game from different points of view.


Talk it out!

Goodness knows there are hundreds, no, thousands of message boards, mirc rooms and other types of social networking outlets for talking about the game. A Google search of "hockey chat" brought up 7,500,000 results. So make that millions of possibilities.

Let me make it easy for you. If you want to find other fans to talk to about your team or the game in general, there are three very good places to do that.

Click on the "Fans" button on the front page of the little band that goes across the NHL. com front page. It's the 11th one from the left or the second on from the right, take your pick. It will take you to NHL Connect. The content there is primarily fan-generated and they have a pretty good league-wide message board.

Wanna keep it local? Go back to your favorite team's page and the odds are pretty good that they're hosting a message board for their fans. Preds fans, go to the seventh button over. The first thing on the Fan Zone pulldown is a link to their message board. Is it okay to visit the message boards for other teams? I'd say yes, but remember that you're a guest. You wouldn't go to someone's house and trash their taste in decor or tell them their kids were ugly and dressed funny. Use your company manners when paying a visit to someone else's virtual home.

Tweet! You're it! Twitter is not just for celebrities any more. It's great place to chat with fans about the team, the game and anything else on your mind at the moment. Wanna know what's going on with the Preds and their fans? Here are some Twitters to follow:


PredsRadio

Predfans

Forechecker

CellBlock303

The View From 111

Predsbuzztap

You can also do "find people" searches under NHL, Hockey and anything else that interests you.



And finally: BLOGGAGE!


It was a challenge to narrow down the Twitters to the list above and I'm finding it just as hard not to turn this epic-length post into an e-book by linking all of the great hockey blogs I've found. This is why I had to limit it to a few very active standouts. Want to see more? Go to the links list on the right side of this screen and check out the links list on the blogs I'm reviewing here.


On The Forecheck http://www.ontheforecheck.com/ Dirk Hoag's SB fan site is one of the best produced fan-generated Preds sites around. His site features an active news feed, message board and excellent downloadable graphics as well as his own very good blog.

Preds On The Glass http://www.predsontheglass.com/ This father and son team present a good mix of commentary and news about the Preds and hockey in general. They're opinionated, well-written and gentlemen to a fault, which is why I have no problem pointing friends from other cities to this blog when they want to know more about Nashville Hockey.

Section 303 http://www.section303.com/ The home page of the loudest, proudest group of fans in the NHL, Section 303 gives a good look into Nashville's hockey culture from the fans' point of view.


So that should get you started.


And, uh, welcome to the family!


copyright 2009 Jas Faulkner