Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day as a kind of "Thanksgiving"

There are a pair of bumper stickers, one of which reads,
"To a Vet: Thank You", and its counterpart, "From a Vet:
You're Welcome." We already have an American holiday
known as "Thanksgiving", but perhaps Memorial Day can be
seen as a "thank you" holiday, too, this time not to God,
per se, but to those who have lived and died in helping all
of us to have all that we have...

Because it's a pretty great thing to be an American: Sure,
there is much in our history to be ashamed of, and things
in the present that need addressing; but if you think not in
terms of politics or philanthropy or "causes" or nationalism,
but in terms of what we HAVE as Americans, it begins to
become clear how good we've got it:

-- Unlike countries such as Congo, we've not had civil war
in more than 140 years
-- Comparatively speaking, our economy is stable
-- We (like many Western nations) are a nation of laws,
not burdened by Theocracies or tied to Royalty
-- Nearly anyone can find a job if they so desire, and many
Americans have their own businesses
-- Every single one of us can go into any public place and
find clean water, a restroom, and electricity
-- Geographically, we live in a climate that is generally
conducive to comfortable living
-- Every single one of us is free to speak and write as we
choose (generally), without fearing our government

The list goes on and on... We take SO MUCH for granted,
every single day... Food, water, transportation systems,
peaceful streets, decent schools, employment, freedom to
worship as we choose (or not at all), breathable air (for the
most part), local, city, state, and national Law Enforcement
organizations, technology and media, sports, entertainment,
colleges and universities by the hundreds, etc. etc. etc...

Sometimes, when my government does or says something
that causes dismay and disappointment, I'm not necessarily
"proud" to be an American, but I am always extremely GLAD
and profoundly thankful to be one...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Oprah as a TV preacher?

There's that darn WORD again!

An article appeared in "USA Today" this past week entitled,
"the divine Miss Winfrey?", talking about her prominence
not just as a talk-show host, but as (in some people's minds)
some kind of modern "guru"...

The key phrasing comes early in the piece:

"Over the past year, Winfrey, 52, has
emerged as a
spiritual leader for the
new millennium, a moral voice
authority for the nation."

MORAL ???! defines "moral" in these two ways, in the
context of this article:

1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or
badness of human action and character
2. Conforming to standards of what is right or just
in behavior; virtuous

The obvious question is this:
What "morality" does Oprah represent? Whose standards
of "goodness" and "badness" does she preach on her show,
in her magazine, books, and public appearances? By what
authority does she promote what is "right" or "just"?

In a pluralistic era in which the idea of any "absolute truth"
is shouted down, can *anyone* be said to be any kind of
"voice of moral authority"?? By whose estimation??

Later in the article, Oprah is compared to Billy Graham;
the comparison could not be more inappropriate:
Reverend Graham has unequivocally preached the authority
of the Bible and the deity of Jesus for nearly 60 years, and
his altar call is the same as that of John the Baptist,
2,000 years ago... to repent of one's sin and accept the
atonement of the cross and the hope of eternal glory.
Graham's message is the simple message of Christianity:
Self-denial, not Self-Realization, is the first step
toward the Truth...

With her "I have my truth, you have your truth" World View,
Oprah Winfrey is certainly no Billy Graham; and her
Relativism disqualifies her as an "authority" in matters
of morality...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Why the STARS lost

Well, it's May 1, 2006, and the STARS are not playing
any more hockey this year; there will be no Stanley Cup
for our beloved Dallas hockey club this season...

Even before the final goal in OT in Game 5, the analysis
along the lines of "what happened??" had already begun.
Clearly, the team that showed up for the Quarterfinals against
Colorado was NOT the team that had finished a record
year with 112 points, second in the West, and a number of
other significant statistics. It was NOT the team that
we STARS fans have been pumped up about since the
middle of October last year. It was not even the team
that the players themselves knew they were...

Even in the last 12 hours, with post-game interviews,
analyses by sports writers, and features on the evening
news, a mound of "breakin' it down" has already grown.
I've watched and read just about all of it, and while it
is all sadly interesting, it all comes down to just one thing:


Coach Tippett was very succinct: "We just didn't get
the job done." While "Desire" doesn't, of course,
guarantee a Win, you cannot win without it. Being an
amateur hockey player myself, I can say first-hand that
when a team comes out on the ice and plays with DESIRE,
you can SEE it: Forwards forecheck hard; players race
to the loose pucks; the physical guys lay hits on the other
team and your skaters find open ice; your grinders dig
it out in the corners and your Defensemen push people
off the puck and keep the slot clear; your shooters find
the open net and your goalie comes up with those
amazing saves... In short, DESIRE causes each player
on the team to play with reckless abandon...

Indeed, Hockey is a TEAM sport, and just like an engine,
the TEAM is supposed to operate in harmony; when any
one part does not do its job, the whole system is thrown
out of whack.

There are (among others) 2 important "sayings" in
hockey: 1) The harder we work, the luckier we get;
and 2) Our best players have to be our best players.
Who's to "blame" for the puzzling flop that the end of
this year turned out to be for Dallas? The whole team.

When a hockey club comes out from the first puck drop
and plays with DESIRE, it's obvious; it's equally obvious
when they do not. While Colorado did enough things right
to win the series, they certainly did NOT go up against
the very best that the Dallas STARS have to offer, at
least, not until it was too late.

So have a great Summer, boys. We'll see you in the Fall.
Thanks for a GREAT year; we will always love our STARS.