Friday, April 28, 2006
From the Fort Myers News-Press, by Sports Writer Donnie Wilke:
"With the home team leading 7-2 on Thursday night and needing only three outs to guarantee itself a home game in next week's Class 3A regionals, Bishop Verot public-address announcer Bill Bell read the names of the Vikings' seven seniors — as if it were their last game on campus.It almost was.Sarasota Cardinal Mooney rallied for five runs to tie the game, only the latest in a calamitous string of late-inning Verot collapses, but Brennan Whitley — one of the seniors — drilled a bases-loaded single to center field in the bottom of the seventh to give the Vikings an 8-7 win and the District 3A-12 title.
"That's been our MO (mode of operation) this season, our Achilles' heel," said Verot coach Tom Losauro, "giving up the big inning and losing leads that took many innings to accumulate."But tonight we came back and played competitively in the bottom of (the seventh), and good things happened for us."
Mooney reliever Brian Dillon walked Josh Koze, who earlier had homered, and, after a failed sacrifice bunt, Josh Hinkle doubled to right-center to move Anthony Vlahovic to third. Craig Toggweiler was intentionally walked, setting up Whitley's title-clinching hit on Dillon's first pitch. It was Whitley's first swing with a newly purchased bat. Ryan Schmidt started the seventh-inning rally for Mooney (17-9) by doubling to right field with one out. Jamie Smith walked, and Schmidt scored on Chris Cowart's single to left. Jace Brown reached on a botched ground ball that scored Smith, before Hunter Ovens lined a two-run single past diving shortstop Austin Flores.
Jamie Jackson struck out, but T.J. Kwarcinski tied the game with a single up the middle. Whitley relieved Matthew Inge, who was touched for four hits and five runs — three of them earned — in one inning, and needed only one pitch to get Steve Fuchs to pop out in foul ground behind first base.
Bishop Verot (11-14) will play host to the 3A-11 runner-up Tuesday night. "This will take us into next week," said Whitley. "Hopefully, we have some momentum now and we've got two pretty good pitchers." Seven of Verot's 12 hits were for extra bases, including homers by Koza, Darrin Jones and Josh Hinkle. "
P.S. In a less important game occurring in Evanston, IL, the Seabury Saints garnered another win via forfeiture, pushing them to a stunning 4-0 record. After the game, many of the players were making buzzing sounds that sounded like hair clippers. Senior player Ryan Whitley refused comment, apparently distressed that this win came off a forfeiture.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
A young girl who was one of the ones who became ill really wanted, as her life's dream, to go to the Louvre. She was an aspiring and already accomplished artist, so a visit to the Louvre would be magnificent for her. The closest she came was a virtual tour as she lay in her hospital bed waiting to die.
By age 24, I have walked the glorious halls of the Louvre and stared Mona Lisa in the face, I have prayed at St. Peter's in the Vatican, I have beheld the majesty of Michaelangelo's David and the awesome, awe-inspiring vistas of the Sistine Chapel. I have hiked mountains in Switzerland and swam in Lake Geneva next to the Chateau de Chillion. I have skiied the Appalachians and biked Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. I have seen, worshipped, and wept in the tomb of Christ and I have put my hand on the rock of Golgotha. I have been allowed inside the Dome of the Rock, and felt the cold stone of Abraham's altar, David's threshing floor, Solomon's cornerstone, and Muhammad's (PBUH) place of ascendence all at once. I have taken in the twinkling lights of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, and I have walked the gardens of Hampton Court. I have done more in my mere 24 years than most get to do in a lifetime and I want to take this moment, right now, to be thankful. Funny how a TV show can bring on all this.
So, whatever you want to call it, blessed, lucky, charmed, I am thankful for the life I have thus far led and I look forward to all that is to come.
Monday, April 24, 2006
However, were you to simply plop 3000 new parishioners into any given parish on any given Sunday, the result would certainly be chaotic and might be disastrous. So, how should we go about the business of church growth, then? Intentionally and carefully, to put it into short terms. A family sized parish cannot sustain the addition of 15 new parishioners without some careful preparation work, let alone 3000. There are important transition issues that need to be addressed with and among the parish clergy and parishioners. New expectations of leadership need to be developed and perhaps new styles of leadership need to be learned or appropriated. This, then, is the work of church growth - preparing the hearts and minds of current parishioners for what it means to be good evangelists and a welcoming community.
Yet, church growth also has a more subtle meaning that may have little to do with numbers, at least at first. This is the “if you build it, they will come” phenomena. If you develop, as a clergy leader, a solid, faithful, welcoming community who yearns to learn about their faith and deepen their relationship with God in exciting ways, others will naturally be attracted to your community. It will bear a certain kind of glow that says to the hearts of those who see, “Something is happening there and I think I want to be a part of it.” Programming and liturgy (including preaching) are the two biggest parts of the portion of the equation for me. We need to move beyond the Sunday morning monotone reading of Eucharistic Prayer A and potluck supper model of being community. Because that kind of community is boring. Sunday morning liturgy needs to be alive, creative, intense, both evolving and traditional. Evolving to connect us to today and where we are headed, traditional to teach us from where we come and connect us to the great communion of the Saints who have gone before. Likewise, programming needs to be fun, educational, community building, and constant. An idea needs to reside in the heads of the parishioners that if they go by the church, something will be going on. The key to this is empowered and excited lay leadership. If you can promote all of these qualities in a parish, your church will grow spiritually in tremendous ways. Parishioners will be excited about what’s happening at their church and tell others. Non-members who are seeking will be attracted as if by a gravitational force. And, what do you know, you’ve got more numbers too, almost as an added bonus. Church growth therefore is about numbers, but it is also and more deeply about growing a faith and an excitement for God in the hearts and minds of all those who pass through your doors.
Friday, April 21, 2006
All this is to say I am really excited about Silent Hill: The Movie. If it is done right, it can be one of the freakiest movies ever. If it is done wrong it can be just plain cheesy. I hope it is done right. I hope it is scary - because the story line is so creative and so odd and so frightening (that psychological kind of terror, not the blood and guts kind, though there is some blood), that to do it wrong would be an incredible injustice. I'll let you know what I think after I see it.
Mason, Sherriff, Hudd, Beal - it's too bad we can't see this one together.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Back in the Office of the Dude in Charge of Seminarians (I think it's actually called the Office for Ministry Development, but I like my title better) I was benignly admonished that I should really be addressing my ember day letters more formally - i.e. "Dear Bishop Lipscomb", instead of my current practice, "Dear Bishop John". Now, I know Bishop John and we've interacted for a long time on a fairly regular basis. I feel comfortable calling him "John", or "Bishop John". But I guess I'll follow the admonishment - righteousness for righteousness' sake. It's funny though, because when I first came to seminary I was very formal with professors, calling them "Dr. Meyers," or "Prof. Adam," or "Fr. Dally," or "Dean Lemler." But, they pretty much beat that out of me so that now we are all on first name bases. From college, I was used to calling professors by the honorific + last name (except in the theater department, where that was frowned upon - first names only there). I got to seminary and it was a culture switch. Now, I've navigated that switch successfully, and the Dude in Charge of Seminarians says start using honorifics + last names again. I guess I'll do that - for a time. But when I get to know someone, I don't like to be so stuffy and formal all the time. I never want my friends to call me "Fr. Whitley", and I'm not even sure how I feel about that with future parishioners! In any event, that's just a minor thing, really.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
As Fort Myers began to grow, George recognized that the city would soon outgrow Page Field, the airport which had serviced it through the World Wars. He also knew that due to the storm season SW Florida experienced, and the elevation of most of the land relative to sea level, that the county would need to build a new, larger airport on the highest ground possible. So, he sought out that land and bought it. Soon enough, the county sought out the same land for just the purpose Mr. Sanders suspected and they came to him. He sold it for $40 million. So, when I say Mr. Sanders was a real estate guy, that's what I mean. It's hard not to think that he actually owned Fort Myers.
But George was more than that. For all the money he made, he gave away much. One of George's favorite and most beloved organizations was the Boy Scouts. Our Council campground is half named after him and the Council office is the Sanders building.
But for all that, it is not what I remember most about Mr. Sanders. I remember a day I met with him. My Dad had taken me to Mr. Sanders' home as a teenager and I saw an old guitar sitting in the corner. At that time I was interested in learning the guitar so I picked it up and played probably the only chord I knew. Mr. Sanders asked me if I wanted to keep it. I looked at my Dad and he nodded. I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "I'll give it to you on one condition. Never let them take God out of Scouting."
Now, I never actually succeeded in learning the guitar, but I have done my best to uphold my portion of the bargain.
Rest in peace this day, George Sanders, and rise in glory with our Lord.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I am quick to see that potential in others. But, do I as quickly see that capacity within myself? Do you?
We asked team captain, Frank Y. why he thought Team Hsu didn't show. Frank said the League power rankings had come out previously in the week, and that surprisingly, Seabury came in second out of thirty-five team with a Power Ranking of 87.00. They also had the highest offensive ranking of all the teams, a solid 15.00. Seeing as how no player but Frank knew what a power ranking was, we sought some explanation. "A power ranking is a combination of point differentials, runs scored, and a subjective assesment by the umpires of how powerful any given team actually is," he explained. In the light of this incredible power ranking, Frank and the rest of the Saints were quick to attribute Team Hsu's forfeit to fear.
The Saints are anxious to get back out on the field next week, taking on Team ISRC. The first pitch will be thrown at 5pm on Long Field.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
O, how I can't wait to live in a place where the background noise isn't sirens and screaming. Where there are not gunfights. Where there are not almost race riots with the police. I look forward to my new house, where if I open the window, I might hear the traffic from the road a little ways away, or maybe even the frogs and crickets. But no more police radios. No more gunfire. No more yelling, screaming, constant streams of profanity. No more domestic abuse. No more child abuse. I'm tired of seeing and hearing all that. For everything I like and love about living in this city, and there is plenty, I'm ready for a slower, calmer pace of life.
My confession is tomorrow morning. I worked on the self-examination part a lot this morning and it feels weird. It feels odd to prepare for this, but I've gotten some very helpful advice from some books specifically geared towards preparing an Episcopalian for a first confession. In a way, I feel like I've been walking around with an open wound the past few days and every so often I poke at it. I don't know that looking forward to tomorrow is the right expression, but there is definitely something I feel about it, just don't know what. I started writing down things I wanted to confess in a journal, so that I could have a record of it. Then I came across the line in the book that specifically said, "don't write them in a journal." You're suppossed to write them down as a memory aid, just on a single sheet(s) of paper which can then be burned or otherwise discarded. The point is you don't hang on to them in any way, spiritually, emotionally, or physically. God wipes them away. Period. I find it funny in retrospect that I wanted a record of them. But I guess that's one of the powers of sin; we want to hold on to them. The power of God is the power for us to turn them over to Him and then He eliminates them. That's a better power.
Monday, April 10, 2006
that thorns would flower upon your brow, your sorrows heal our own.
I read a book once that talked about a Jewish rabbi preparing his Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah sermons six months in advance. Such was the degree of importance with which he approached those high holy days. I thought, I wish we had something like that. We do. Easter. Well, if that's the case, why does the lead up to Easter seem like such a burden? It is difficult to get ramped up for it, for me, this year. As I reflect on it more, I begin to see those services and remembrances through which I must go before the glory of Easter can be attained. I remember the pain through which my Lord had to go.
It's hard to get excited about crucifixion.
As the Passion Gospel was read today at the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Palms, I watched as my priest fell to her knees when it was told of the nails being driven home. At first, I thought it was a liturgical gesture, and I, being a faithful sub-deacon, should follow her lead. But then I saw, and I knew it was no mere liturgical gesture. She was brought to her knees by the story, by the foreknowledge of what is to come this week. I was humbled. It's not that the week ahead is a drag, a required thing I must endure. It's not about that so much. Rather, it's the fact that the week ahead is about betrayal, fear, mistrust, torture, humiliation, and death. That's what I am finding hard to face, that's what I'm feeling afraid of.
As a part of Holy Week this year, my final Holy Week as a lay person, I will be giving my confession. I've never done this before and I find I am scared. I'm not sure what I'm scared of, exactly, but the prospect makes me feel afraid. But I know it is something I have to do. I feel called to do. I came across this prayer earlier tonight, and it helped a little bit. So I share it with you now, as we all prepare to enter the hardest few days of the year.
How can I confess to anyone these same old recycled sins?
The sins of this year are
the sins of last year in a different dress.
I intend to amend my life.
I see what my temptations are,
and all the habitual ways I act.
I confess. And then I do it all again.
I am embarrassed.
But I hear your chuckle,
since all sins are the same old sins
in the costume of the moment.
You encourage me to come clean,
and, crazily, to try again.
You offer me the same old forgiveness year by year.
I realize, it is my favorite fashion.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Speaking of offensive, the Saints seemed to be wielding holy objects for bats yesterday. Mitch S., a returning senior and center fielder, was the lead off man. His first pitch he took to center field in the gap and slid safely into second base with a double. Beth P. drove him home with a double of her own and Frank Y., team coach, brought her in with a triple. This brought power hitter Jen T. to the cleanup position and she knocked Frank home with a double. Ryan W. stepped up to the plate and picked up two RBI's with a deep blast to straightaway center field for the Saints' first homer of the season. Seven runs were scored in the first half of the first inning lending an air of confidence to the previously unpracticed and unsure Saints.
Simpson St., however, would not be daunted, scoring 5 of their own runs against a shaky Seabury defense. However, after the first inning, Seabury stood tall in the field, throwing out runners and not making (too many) costly errors. The Saints' bats would continue to produce runs throughout the game, and the defense staunched the slow but sure flow of Simpson St. for a final score of 14-10, Saints. The Saints thank their loyal fans who cheered them on to victory, particularly C. Davies R., John H., Andrew B. and teammate Denise S., who is out this season on pregnancy leave. Seabury Batting Notes: Both Beth S. and Hope B. would make solid contact with the ball, but could not manage getting on base. When asked about their performance, Hope said, "Hey, I hit the ball, which is great. Getting on base is going to be a bonus." The Saints look forward to that bonus manifesting itself in the next game, providing some stability in the lower part of the line-up. Jen T. would go 2-3 with 2 RBI's, Brian V. would go 2-3 as would Mitch S. Ryan W. was solid all day, hitting 3-3, with a HR, a 3B, 3 RBI's, and 2 runs scored; slugger teammate Mitch S. was overheard saying somewhat incredulously, "Ryan's on fire today!"
The Saints look forward to a promising season and some practice.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
In other news, I've read a lot of books lately and not written about them. A while ago I finished The Scar, by China Mieville. I was pretty excited about this book after reading the author's previous work, Perdido Street Station, which I loved. However, everything Mieville did right in Perdido, he did wrong in Scar. The characters were not nearly as intriguing, and you could tell he was trying too hard to make them intriguing, which ended up coming off as inauthentic. The main setting of the book was ripped from the pages of a Neal Stephenson novel. And the plots were boring. There didn't seem to be a particular direction in which the story was going, it just kept plodding along, going this way and that, randomly. There were scenes that were good though. One chapter contained one of the most exciting naval warfare scenes I've ever read, but scenes like this were few and far between. As the story progressed he kept introducing new ideas from left field that he forced to jive with his story and then tried to make each one bigger than the last, sometimes physically bigger in case the importance was lost on readers (which it was). It just didn't do it for me and my disappointment was compounded by my anticipation of a great story, because I loved Perdido so much. He's written another one, called Iron Council, which a friend of mine assures me is the best of the three, but it'll be a while before I read it I think.
In a rash of poor novels, I also read Michael Crichton's Prey. The story started off interesting enough and it kept me engaged. The characters are pretty flat, but hey, it's Crichton and luckily it's not character driven. By the end of the book, however, the scenes and scientific revelations just kept getting more and more unbelievably presented and that really bugged me (no pun intended). The concept of an evolving, self-aware, nanoparticle swarm is scary, sure. But the way in which he told readers about each new thing the swarm was "learning" to do got a little silly. I was disappointed by the end. In all honesty, it felt like he was writing a book to turn into a movie. It had all the right elements for Hollywood: scary science stuff, rocky marital relationship, girl with big boobs (he actually writes that in there), (unnecessary)explosions, chase scene, deaths, and happy endings. Blah, blah, blah. I know this may be harsh criticism, but I really feel this way: there is way better "beach reading" out there.
Now I've moved on to something a bit more heavyweight. I've decided to revisit an old high school nemesis of mine and give William Faulkner another shot. In order to do that, I've chosen one of his best beloved titles, Light in August. So far I am loving it, actually. I'm not finding it hard to read or confusing to follow. In fact, I likened his (lack of) use of punctuation and unique grammatical constructions to IM conversations. In an IM world, high schoolers may start finding Faulkner more approachable. Shifting time, multiple conversations occuring at once - not the problem it once was! In any event, this book has really grabbed me. The characters are so real I can see them. I find I want to know what happens to them next and in just a few short pages, Faulkner has made me care about these people with whom I have relatively little in common. I hope it continues like this, cause if it does, I could get into reading this kind of story.
To cap off the evening and a long post, I'm preaching tomorrow at Seabury. About angels. Should be a good time. Hope my voice gets better. And also, I want to say hi to Rose from Louisiana soon to be in Florida.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Paul Lo Duca
1B - Ryan Howard
2B - Marcus Giles
3B - Adrian Beltre
OF - Ichiro Suzuki
Util - Jose Reyes
SP - Johan Santana
RP - Brad Lidge