Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Vision of Marriage

At Alastair's Adversaria is a nice piece on marriage, in which I found this marvelous quote from Alexander Schmemann's For The Life of the World:
"In movies and magazines the 'icon' of marriage is always a youthful couple. But once, in the light and warmth of an autumn afternoon, this writer saw on the bench of a public square, in a poor Parisian suburb, an old and poor couple. They were sitting hand in hand, in silence, enjoying the pale light, the last warmth of the season. In silence: all words had been said, all passion exhausted, all storms at peace. The whole life was behind--yet all of it was now present, in this silence, in this light, in this warmth, in this silent unit of hands. Present--and ready for eternity, ripe for joy. This to me remains the vision of marriage, of its heavenly beauty." 

Football Is Life: Tackling To The Glory of God. No, Like, Seriously.

The big ongoing story in American football over the past few years has been safety, especially concerning concussion and head injuries. As rules changes have been instituted one of the chief complaints has been that unrealistic demands were being made of football players. How could a blitzing linebacker or roving safety be expected to go against a lifetime of training and stop being a headhunter? How could we ask a running back not to lead with his head when his salary depends on making an extra half-yard consistently?

As a rugby player and enthusiast, I had little patience with such complaints. Apparently so did someone else who matters way more: Super Bowl 2014 champion coach Pete Carroll. Carroll was a defensive coordinator for fifteen years, then a highly successful college coach, and now a Super Bowl winning coach in the NFL.

In rugby, there are rules (enforced, by the way) governing how to make a tackle. No hitting people in the air. Nothing above the shoulder. No hitting, just tackling (i.e. at least look like you're trying to wrap). If you fail to do these things you will be penalized, which is potentially worth three points, sent off the game for ten minutes, or possibly kicked out of the game entirely, leaving your team down a man.

Rugby is safe because people want it to be safe.

Pete Carroll uses rugby drills and techniques when coaching tackling. You can read about it here and watch it below.

Carroll is legitimately concerned with maintaining player safety, and he coaches that way. For example, his "drive for five" is the solution to the concern that form tackling instead of hitting will surrender extra territory. And the reward for honoring player safety is obvious: your best players are more likely to be around at the end of the year, during crunch time.

Two things men like Carroll reject. First, that form tackling isn't real football. That football is hitting, and that players who aren't willing to play in a league with a high head injury rate don't deserve to be football players. Second, that safe tackling might be well and good on paper, but it's too hard in real life.

When you tackle you can be a pagan, and say that football is death and pain. Or you can be a nominal Christian, who thinks form tackling is a nice thought, but doesn't work in real life. Because, you know, football is death and pain. Or you can be a Christian when you tackle, taking satisfaction and joy in the knowledge that football is life.

Even when your entire culture is against you, doing right for the sake of doing right is usually easier than we in our wickedness suppose. And even when doing good only brings difficulty upon difficulty, it blesses. Choose life, in all areas. If you want to love Jesus, you will love Jesus. If you seek life, you will be given life.
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.  
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stills of Hell On Wheels' Anson Mount Smoking A Pipe

Is the only reason you've considered picking up pipe smoking that it's so badass? That's reason enough, because it is very badass indeed.

Anson Mount, whose great-great-great granddaddy was a Confederate cavalry colonel, and whose full name is Anson Adams Mount IV, smokes a pipe through season 3 of Hell on Wheels. And not only does he smoke a pipe throughout, it's a meerschaum. I would like to move, on the strength of these pictures, to get rid of the idea that a meerschaum is only for the drawing room: let's take them out into the wide world, whether that wide world be the wild west or a movie set.

Feast your eyes on the awesomeness.

He discovers the pipe clenched between the teeth of a frozen compatriot.

The bowl is already conveniently packed. At this point we ask ourselves why the character, a former tobacco farmer, hasn't been smoking a pipe all along.
The pipe faces down the hostile board of a railroad company.

The pipe gets knocked into the mud. The pipe is angry now.

The pipe climbs out of the mud and gets to work.

The pipe meets Ulysses S. Grant.

The pipe looks its troubles in the eye with a steely resolve.

The pipe is contemplative at close of day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poem: Concentration

I have to be careful
when I bring up the braces
you were wearing on the day we met,
though I tell everyone we know
behind your back.

You wore undignified overalls
because you oil painted your studies,
not caring if you looked like a little kid.
Your classmates' ruffled artist outfits
were more carefully considered.

Is it adorable
that I thought your soteriology sexy,
or that we stopped to talk with tiny winged giraffes
on our off-campus walks?

Is it cute or creepy when I tell the story
of how I said we'd get married
and you told me to get lost
but instead I called you at three every morning?

For your senior project
I was your husband the elephant,
you a hedgehog.
Your classmates thought we were into S & M.

That was hard work, that year
probably harder than the babies
that followed, five of the best
and none seemed to get any easier.
You not painting.

The house you wanted
for the lawn you said,
then burdened yourself with more
garden every year.

The shop we opened you loved so much,
its failure. We began to count
the years by which cats we adopted,
which died.

You had your braces removed
at age eighteen, although they did nothing
to fix your teeth being small like a little kid's,
and our third boy has your teeth.

Your concentration then was
hard to look away from,
your baby-faced cheeks and exploded hair
bent over a canvas,
I wanting you to look at me as intently.

I wrote you youthful poetry,
which you said was flattering
and you thought was nice,
that you remember none of today.

Which is why right now you are completely unconscious
that when you concentrate you
look exactly like those poems.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Babies Will Destroy Your Life (Kind of Like HIV)

Lovers Plus condoms in South Africa are encouraging customers to "protect your dreams". Because babies destroy lives.

Babies will take away your dream vacation.

Babies will let you buy that muscle car you always dreamed about, then SMASH IT AND YOUR DREAMS with their tiny baby feet.

Babies also take away your chance to get the corner office. Stupid babies.

Lovers Plus, by the way, is a non-profit NGO that operates like a for-profit. It is owned by the Society for Family Health in South Africa, which uses profits from sales to fund "health initiatives" particularly concerned with HIV prevention. But lest you doubt that it is positions itself as a competitive brand, behold:
The Lovers Plus brand has attained consistent growth since its launch in 1993, primarily as a result of the application of successful marketing and advertising strategies. Lovers Plus is positioned as a fun, affordable, high-quality condom for adults who have high self-esteem, are ambitious and stylish. The price point has also assisted in positioning the brand as a quality product in the consumers’ mind.
That price point comment means it's not the cheapest condom on the market. It's a relatively top-shelf product, as much as condoms can be. This breathy radio ad in Afrikaans demonstrates that simply by being in Afrikaans, a white-people language in South Africa.

If we accept that sexual promiscuity is inevitable, and babies undesirable, why not harness the power of sex to save people from themselves? Let the purchasers of Lovers Plus, who are worried about convertibles, or at least want to be the sort of people who worry about convertibles, pay for saving Africa from AIDS.

Never mind that the solution to AIDS/HIV is marriage and faithfulness. That's like saying Jesus is the answer to the HIV crisis, and that won't do at all. I suppose we should be grateful these aren't ads for abortions. The culture of promiscuity and the culture of death are one and the same, saying peace peace when there is no peace.

They are also, by the way, extremely misogynistic.

Lastly, this.


The Beatitudes of Beer

This is the red letter edition of the beatitudes of beer. Cheers and prost!

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How To Make The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich In The World

You should see how my wife reacts when I serve her this sandwich. Except you won't, because that would be indecent.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How To Know When To Take Communion: A Handy Guide

Knowing when and how to take communion can be difficult. After all, we want to do Christ's will, but fear to do so unworthily. For church leaders and pastors the issues are even more complex. How do we fence the table? Do we allow children and visitors to take the Lord's Supper? Do we open up to any professing Christians, or just to our members? Church leaders must not only safeguard themselves, but all their flock as well, lest any eat or drink unworthily.

In view of these complexities, we here at Joffre The Giant have taken the time to draw up two flow-charts to aid both lay-people and church leaders in their prayerful meditations over how and when to take the Supper of Jesus Christ. We hope that these are helpful, and not overly-complex.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Men You'll Find In The Perfect Church Men's Group

Thinking of starting a Christian men's group? Make sure that you have a group suitable to overcoming many challenges and defeating many bosses on your noble quest. Whether you're meeting at Waffle House at 6 a.m. for earnest prayer to Father God, for quiet coffee and confession at a coffee shop, or for Bible study at Jim's house, the right group is essential for spiritual success.

Would you, sir, take two fighters and no rogues on a dungeon crawl? Or worse, two rogues and no fighters? Of course not. And so it is with Christian men's groups. The right balance of personalities needs to be struck, the vices of one offset by the virtues of another, different skills and abilities brought to bear.

If you're about to start a men's small group, then your prayers for wisdom just might have been answered. Without further ado, the perfectly designed group, with each of the six men conveniently described as an easily recognizable archetype:


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