Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just a Beating

LSU scored 45+ points for the fourth time in five games on Saturday as they just destroyed Mississippi State, 48-17. Aside from a very close loss to Auburn, LSU looks like one of the best teams in college football. There's not a team in the country they couldn't hang with.

JaMarcus Russell had the best passing day of his career (and one of the best I've ever witnessed), going 18-20, 330 yards, and 3 TD's. Russell only threw two incompletions, and was extremely sharp and confident. The defense was stout, and all of MSU's points came when the game was way out of reach. Watch out for the Tigers. If they can keep playing like this, they'll get some BCS attention at years end.

Next up is the hated Florida Gators. LSU goes to The Swamp for this one, where they have won 3 straight. Tiger bait!!

The Hills Are Alive...

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Just wanted to post a few of the cd's, or albums, or whatever you want to call them's that I've been listening to lately. I'm a bit of an old fogey in that I usually listen to talk radio (Sports radio 1310 - the Ticket, to be exact), but I've been listening to a lot of fun new music lately, and I thought I'd share it with you. Wanna hear it? Hear it go:
  1. Guster, "Ganging up on The Sun" - Really cool stuff. Kind of Ben Folds meets Coldplay. Catchy music and good writing with a dash of contemplative pop. Very cool.
  2. Keane, "Under the Iron Sea" - A real U2-ie kind of band with a 80's flare. Loves me some Keane.
  3. Anything by Spoon - I like everything I've heard from them. Kind of remind me of The Cars on some stuff, but much more broad. Good stuff.
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Howl" - This group is just cool. Accoustic and raw, yet polished. If you like Blues, but don't like the redundant licks, you'll enjoy this fresh band. This is the kind of stuff Doc Savage, Spyder Monkey and I would've listened to on road trips. I like 'em a lot!
  5. John Mayer, "Continuum" - OK, so many of you will ask me to turn in my "Indie music cool guy" card for putting a mainstream guy like Mayer on the list, but this is a great album. Lots of Jazz and Blues, and no radio "hits" in the whole bunch. This is one guy who deserves to be on a major label. Check out "Gravity." Great song!
OK, that's all I have for now. Sometimes I just have to post stuff like this in a feeble attempt to make myself feel relevant and cool. Just indulge me, ok?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tigers Overwhelm Wave - 49-7

LSU bounced back big time this weekend in an absolute destruction of Tulane. The Tigers were clearly the superior team, and freshman running back, Charles Scott, showed that he has the ability to emerge as the next great LSU back. Then again, it was Tulane, and the Green Wave can make anybody look like world beaters.

Up next for the Tigers: Mississippi State. Look for LSU to have a big day against the Bulldogs next week. This one will get ugly quick. LSU 35, Miss. St. 3.

A Worthy Revolution

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Been thinking a lot lately about money. It's a constant stressor. Money is like a relentless ruler who demands more of those under him than they can give. It is cruel and decietful, and as active as a school boy at recess.

On a recent trip with my Mother and sister, I was refreshed at Mom's view of money. I usually look forward to trips with Mom because she pays for everything. Lunch... it's on Mom. Movie... Mom's got it covered. Souveniers for the kids... What are Mom's for? But this trip was different. Mom had several opportunities to treat my sister and me to good food and fun. Instead, she was sure to make us lunches that we took with us on our travels. There were no nights out at the movies, but there were plenty of moments filled with what my friend Mike Spratt would've called "Free Fun!!" In all, it was a great trip, and it was a cheap trip.

I asked Mom about her new philosophy of spending, and she told me, with all the passion of a conscietious objector, that she was on a budget, and had set a meager spending goal for herself on this trip. Her main motivation was to save a significant amount this month in order to help a woman in her small group who needed help paying her rent.

I learned a lot from that conversation about generosity. I learned that generosity is our way of sticking it to money's propensity to rule us like a tyrant. I learned that money can't impose it's will on us if we make it work for the benefit of others. Most of all I learned that I am selfish and spoiled. I hate the way money rules over me, yet I willingly bow at its alter almost daily. I fall for the lie that money can make my life better, and in so doing, I turn my back on generosity and my front toward the evil ruler.

Thanks, Mom, for being an example of generosity. You're on the front lines of a wonderful revolution. Viva la generosity!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tigers Go Bottom Up.

Well, I'm almost finished mourning the gut-wrenching LSU loss this weekend to Auburn. There were several calls in that game that may have affected the outcome, but in the end LSU had every opportunity to win, and they just couldn't capitalize. On the last drive of the game, the Tigers were driving deep into Auburn territory. With no time-outs, QB JaMarcus Russell allowed himself to be sacked with only 30 seconds on the clock. LSU lined up for two more plays, the final one being a pass to Craig "Buster" Davis that was completed a mere 4 yards from the endzone. That's right, folks, only 4 yards seperated the Tigers from victory over Auburn, and first place in the SEC West. Instead, we fell to the War Eagle 7-3, in what was one of the toughest defensive battles I've ever seen.

This week LSU will face off against the Tulane Green Wave in what should be a rout. Tulane used to be a huge rival, but LSU is simply in another league now. There's no way that Tulane can keep up. This game should have a very different tone because both LSU and Tulane were so disrupted by the hurricane's last year. I'd be shocked if this contest weren't very respectful and clean, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the tiger faithful give Tulane a standing ovation. Lord knows they deserve it after Katrina ravaged their campus last year.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Defending The Lion
Two weeks ago, while burning a couple of hours at Barnes & Noble, I overheard a tense conversation between a mother and her adult son about whether or not God should be defended. The mother, speaking in a thick southern accent, was vehemently opposed to her son's idea that God doesn't need to be defended. I pretended to read the back jacket of the latest best-seller, while intently listening to every muffled word of this awkward interaction. The quote that caught my attention was when the mother quietly shouted, "He died for me, you better believe I'll defend Him!"

I can remember a time when I felt the same way. People in school would talk about abortion and how a woman has the right to choose, and I'd take it as a personal shot at God. Others would bad mouth certain conservative politicians and I'd get all huffy because to me, those politicians were upholding the kinds of things God would want us to uphold. I got to the point where I'd read books about defending God from the evils of a society that was out to push God further and further to the fringes of culture (the same culture, by the way, that was founded by God-fearing men). After all, somebody had to defend God or else we'd lose Him for good, and then what would we do?

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I came to realize that God is big enough to defend himself. There was freedom in that thought for me, I guess because it made me feel secure, like God could handle it. Stuart Briscoe tells the story of a Royal Marine in the British army who demonstrated his faith by kneeling on the floor of his barrack to pray. The other men in the room, seeing that he was in prayer, threw their boots at him. The man, instead of defending God and scolding his bunkmates, cleaned their boots and returned them. What a beautiful picture of the way Jesus himself defended his character.

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, once said, when asked if we should defend God, "Defend God?! Do you need to defend a lion? You don't defend God, you turn him loose!!" Turning God loose doesn't mean that we treat people like adversaries because they don't believe as we do. It means that we live lives of powerful impact that can't help but be noticed and respected. It means that we stop "doing" ministry and start "being" ministers. It means that we are moved and led by God, and that we rally around the revolutionary idea that we were made for a purpose and there is no greater cause than to live according to that purpose. We no more need to defend that than we need to defend our need to eat, for this purpose is as gnawing and natural to man as hunger.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cats beat Cats in Week 2; Face Cats in Week 3 (Confusing)

Last night the LSU Tigers took on the Arizona Wildcats before a sold out Tiger Stadium. LSU was dominant from the opening bell, and the #6 Tigers (2-0) did their part in setting up this week's showdown with #3 Auburn (2-0).

LSU quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, continued to show that he is improving in both confidence and ability as he led the Tigers on several long scoring drives. Wide reciever Dwayne Bowe also demonstrated that he is over the case of "dropsies" he had toward the end of last year. Apparently his off-season Lasik surgery has proven to be a wise decision. The rushing game was much improved, and it looks like LSU is poised for this week's early season SEC showdown with Auburn.

Speaking of which, Saturday's game with Auburn will be one of the best games of the year. LSU and Auburn have a long history of great games, and this one is usually decided by less than a touchdown. Auburn comes into the game cruising through it's first two opponents, and LSU is coming off of its second straight 45-3 victory. Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn will be jumping for this game!!

So, after dismantling the Wildcats, the Tigers now face... the Tigers. Just for the record, LSU has a real, live Tiger on campus (Mike V). Auburn's only live "mascot" is an eagle (I know, it's unstable to be the "Tigers" and the "War Eagle" all at the same time. I don't get it either). Now, who do you think would win that fight?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

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I used to watch a lot of Crocodile Hunter when it first came out, and was constantly amazed at this nut-job, Steve Irwin, and his fascination with crocs, snakes, and other potentially deadly animals. I remember one show in particular where Irwin battled a green mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world, for about 10 straight minutes. The first five minutes had me jumping around the room as I nervously watched Irwin try to contain the lightning quick killing machine. Somewhere toward the middle of this epic showdown I turned my allegiance toward the snake. I actually thought about what this guy was doing, and I started rooting for the snake to bite him. I thought, "Why am I worried about this dude? He's holding a green mamba! The laws of nature dictate that he should be bitten and die!!"

Anyway, there's no way I'd even go near some of the creatures that Steve Irwin held, caressed, and claimed "crikey, this animal is so beautiful!", but I had fun watching him do it. Even though I once actively rooted for his demise, I truly enjoyed watching his passion and energy. He was a cool dude, and I'm really sad to hear that he passed away. For those of you who haven't heard, he was killed by a stingray a couple of days ago. It punctured his heart with it's barb. You can read the story here. What a way to go.

By the way, the stingray is now #1 on my list of most hated creatures. It is followed closely by the wretched, red-bottomed baboon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tigers - Game One

LSU claims its first victim of the season as they hammer The University of Louisiana at Lafayette 45-3 in their home opener. The Tigers looked pretty dominant, but the level of competition was less than challenging. I was encouraged, though, to see Alley Brousard, LSU's vaunted running back, return from last years season ending knee surgery with a good performance (he averaged 7 yards per carry). The most impressive aspect of this team in game one was the passing attack, led by massive quarterback, JaMarcus Russell (6'6", 260lbs). Russell looked fantastic, and Tiger fans are pumped to see if the canon-armed Russell can continue to improve upon his 15-2 record as a starter.

Next up, Arizona. Let's see if the Tigers can work their Tiger Stadium mojo on Mike Stoops' Wildcats this Saturday.

Geaux Tigers!!

What is War?

War. What is it, and what things characterize it? Here are several things that Wikipedia lists as "Effects of War":
  • Death, injury, and destruction of property
  • Unexploded ordnance
  • Destruction of works of art
  • Rape of women and children
  • Territorial changes
  • Liberation/Institution of new social/economic/political order(regime change)
  • Resolution, continuation, or increase of political, economic, or social conflict
  • Increased or decreased probability of future armed conflicts
  • Environmental/Infrastructure damage
  • Famine
  • Disease
  • Scientific advances
  • Negative psychological effects on individuals
  • Drain on resources(economic, material, manpower, etc.)
  • Displacement of refugees/strain on surrounding states due to conflict
  • Social upheaval
  • Destabilization or strengthening of involved/interested/surrounding states position due to conflict
Now, take a look at these numbers of war casualties:
  • The number of World War I casualties (military and civilian) was over 37 million - over 15 million deaths and 22 million wounded. This includes almost 9 million military deaths and about 6.6 million civilian deaths. The Allied Powers lost more than 5 million soldiers and the Central Powers more than 3 million.
  • The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II, irrespective of political alignment, was roughly 62 million people. The civilian toll was around 37 million, the military toll about 25 million. The Allies lost around 51 million people, and the Axis lost 11 million.
  • 600,000 Korean soldiers died in the Korean war according to US estimates. More than a million South Koreans were killed, 85% of them civilians. According to figures published in the Soviet Union, 11.1% of the total population of North Korea perished, which indicates that 1,130,000 people were killed. In total about 2,500,000 people were killed. More than 80% of the industrial and public facilities and transportation works, three-quarters of the government offices, and one-half of the houses were destroyed.
  • US casualties in the Korean war are as follows: 33,686 battle deaths, 2,830 non-battle deaths, and 17,730 deaths of Defense Department personnel outside the Korean theatre.[17] There were also 8,142 US personnel listed as Missing In Action (MIA) during the war. US casualties in Korean war are fewer than in the Vietnam War, but they occurred over three years as opposed to 13 years (1960-1973) in Vietnam.
  • 58,239 US troops were killed in action during the Vietnam war. 128,000 were wounded in action. 1,000,000-5,000,000 North Vietnamese were killed in action, and 2,000,000 to 3,500,000 Vietnamese civilians were killed.
Let's take a look at the casualties of the current war in Iraq:
  • The Iraq Body Count project puts the total of civilian deaths reported in major media between 41,041 and 45,613 through August 24, 2006.
  • US casualties: 2,637 total deaths, 19,323 combat wounded (8,773 evacuated), plus an unknown number of non-combat injuries.
Now, the purpose of this post isn't to justify the Iraq war based on the fact that casualty totals are significantly lower than other major conflicts. The purpose of this post is to simply state that war is long, ugly and full of death. If you believe that we are truly at war in Iraq, your expectations should be lots of casualties, significant time and resources, and victory. If you believe that we are not at war in Iraq, but are instead stuck in the middle of a civil war that doesn't involve us, your expectations are that we have failed and should withdraw before we suffer further casualties. The way you view Iraq seriously depends upon whether or not you think we are truly at war.

This has no bearing, by the way, on whether or not this is a just war, or is the best way to carry out an advance on our enemies. That is for you to decide. If, in fact, we are truly at war, no one should be at all surprised by massive casualties, difficult, time consuming conflicts, and even civilian casualties. I hate to say it, but that's what war is.

I'd love to read your thoughts on this. Please feel free to share.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ya Gotta Have Faith

Innocence 1
I Just hung out with a close friend who is struggling right now on a number of levels. Most of all, he's dealing with a life that is absent of faith. His main reason for this startling lack of faith is that he doesn't see the benefit in the here and now. In the present, he is full of sorrow, pain and a "loneliness that most people can't comprehend." He fails to see how faith can replace the lack of companionship, happiness and purpose that he enjoyed during his 10 years of marriage, which recently ended in a sudden divorce.

This guy is smart, handsome and just flat out cool, but he's lost right now, and nothing seems to comfort him. What's a pastor to do with a situation like this. I guess I could quote a bunch of scripture and try to force this guy to see the obvious wisdom of a surrender to Christ. I could condescendingly tell him that life's not fair, and he should just deal with it. I could rebuke him for living a less than moral existence, and show him that good works are the way to find truth and freedom. There are a lot of things I could do, but I don't like any of these options.

Instead, we sat on his porch, relaxed to some good music, enjoyed some fine tobacco, and just talked. Sure, the subject of Christ's sacrifice and offer of redemption came up, but it was one among many things that we discussed. You see, I can't make that call for this guy. I can't wrestle through the depths of belief for him, but I can walk beside him in his journey. I can tell him my story and pray that he will find the same peace that I've found, but I can't walk that path to faith for him. I so wish I could, and I honestly believe he does too. I think he'd be thrilled if faith came as easily for him as it does for me, but that's not the way it works.

The way it works is that we talk about the ups and downs of life, and in so doing, we naturally cross the path of faith. When we do, either faith will win out or it won't. Either the path of faith will irresistably lure him down it's wonderful trail, or he will continue to travel down other, more certain dead ends. Either way, all I can do is listen, share my story, and continue to be a friend no matter what. After all, if he can have faith in my friendship, maybe he can one day excercise faith in my best friend. Without my unconditional friendship, my best friend may look more like a tyrant. With my friendship it's obvious that God loves those who are weak, and faith is less about being happy and more about being needy.

I'm praying for you, friend, and God knows I'm all about being your friend. May faith find you in your time of need, just as it did me.