Friday, December 23, 2005

The "I Believe Stick"

A football game. A man on the sidelines. A stick held in the air every single play.

I saw this pecular practice in person when Southern Miss played UAB, and this one man on the sidelines holding up some sort of pole as each snap was about to take place was befuddling. Was this a microphone? Was it a signal to the players? A lightning rod? Moses parting the waters?

No, it was about faith. You know, the easy-flowing, feel-good, this-works-f0r-me, success-on-the-football-field kind of faith (a.k.a. mystical, positive self-esteem.)

Father Tommy Conway is the "team chaplian" for Southern Miss, and he actually has a Bible reference to support his habit which began (and worked!!) against an undefeated TCU (Horned Frogs) team:

"Seizing upon an amphibian motif, Conway read the team the scripture in Exodus that described the plague of frogs God sent down upon Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to let Moses and the Jews go free.
"In the end the frogs all died, and they put them in a big pile and they began to stink," Conway said. "I told the team, 'We're not going to let these stinking frogs come in here and beat us. Now, I'm not Moses and I'm not Jesus, but I do have my own staff. Every time you take the field, I want you to look at the staff and believe in yourselves.'"
Sure enough, Southern Miss shocked the stinkin' Horned Frogs, 40-28. And a tradition (superstition?) was born. Ever since then, Father Football and his stick have been a sideline presence. "

You serious, Clark?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sunday of Christmas Past

Where were you on Christmas in 1994? What were you doing?

With all the press about Christmas falling on a Sunday this year and the response of many churches, one of the intriguing aspects that occured to me is that the last time that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday was in 1994. (The next will be 2011, Lord willing.)

Did you attend a worship service on Christmas in 1994?

Were the things most important to you then still the most important to you now?

Without finding pictures or something else, can you remember anything specific about that Christmas 11 years ago? With whom did you gather? What did you give? What did you receive?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz

Here is the Christmas movie quotes quiz I compiled for a party. See how many you can guess without googling them. I'll post the answers soon.

1. This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys, nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?

2. No, no. I mean "Jingle Bells". You know, deck them halls and all that stuff. No, no, no. You don't get it at all. I mean "Jingle Bells". You know, Santa Claus, and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe... and presents for pretty girls...

3. We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.

4. Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

5. It's just like Santa's workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms... and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me...

6. Football? Football? What's a football? With unconscious will my voice squeaked out 'football'.

7. It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.

8. Happy birthday! Hey, I said my first words. But... But snowmen can't talk. Ha ha ha, come on now, what's the joke? Could I really be alive?

9. If I live to be 100, I'll never forget that big snow storm a couple of years ago. The weather closed in and, well you might not believe it, but the world almost missed Christmas. Oh, excuse me, call me Sam. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?

10. Charlie, stay away from those things. They're reindeer, you don't know where they've been. They all look like they've got key lime disease.

11. It's Christmas Eve. It's-it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.

12. Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.

The Answers...

1. Home Alone; 2. A Charlie Brown Christmas; 3. Christmas Vacation; 4. It's A Wonderful Life; 5. Elf; 6. A Christmas Story; 7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas; 8. Frosty the Snowman; 9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; 10. The Santa Clause; 11. Scrooged; 12. Miracle on 34th Street.

Update: Take Quiz 2: Christmas Movie Quotes Quiz 2

New for 2009: Take the Christmas Carol Quiz

Friday, December 09, 2005

Why December 25?
The origin of Christmas had nothing to do with paganism - by Gene Edward Veith at World Magazine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Numbers Must Lie

Birmingham recently ranked as 10th most dangerous city in the USA. Birmingham's Mayor Kincaid, evidently living somewhere between Alice and the Cat in the Hat, denied the numbers, claiming
"It sends the wrong message about our city...[t]hat kind of data going unchecked can have a chilling effect on what we are striving and working toward - creating jobs and working activities for our young people, making this a livable city."

How about working toward reducing the crime rate?

Kincaid claims that the 2004 stats show improvement. What the 2004 stats show is that Birmingham still ranked worse than the national average in every single category. Any complaints by Kincaid that the stats are being manipulated is simply denial. Then, a glance at the 2005 increase in murders immediately raises eyebrows.

Sorry Folks, Park's Closed

Some Megachurches closing on Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thousands of Gold and Silver Coins

Psalm 119:72 says, "The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

First of all, imagining thousands of gold and silver pieces is staggering. I feel good if there are a few paper bills in my wallet, and I tend to find confidence in such minor things to boast about.

Next, "better" is not just a ranking on paper, but must play itself out in how we order our lives -- or it is not actually "better." If I claim that Coke is better than Pepsi, then given the choice, I must choose Coke to support my statement.

The point is that actually choosing God's law over the riches of this world is the test of truth. I can claim to love God's word, but if I cannot find time in a 24 hour day to open a Bible, my claims are empty. If my career (which is where our modern-day gold and silver come from) is the overriding effort of my entire life, is God's law truly "better"?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Homicide Headquarters

What is wrong with Birmingham, Alabama, "The Magic City"? Something. The number of homicides for 2005 has hit #98 with still four weeks remaining in the year, nearly a 100% increase over last year's 59 and up considerably from 2003's mark of 85. The national average is about 5.5 per 100,000 people. That would translate to around 13 homicides for a city of Birmingham's size.