Archive for May, 2006|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2006 at 7:08 pm

well surprise, surprise is reporting that after seven months of cynical maneuvers for more cash, roger clemens has decided to ignore the final wishes of his dearly departed ma by returning to the houston astros. now that the rocket is finally set for re-entry, and the endless rumors and speculation about his plans have ceased, i would like to share my hopes for his season:

i hope that roger blows his rotator cuff, rolls his pickup truck and witnesses the death of his dearly beloved dog. i would also wish that he would lose a climactic, late season game to the cardinals, but it seems silly to waste a wish on that which is certain.


In Uncategorized on May 31, 2006 at 5:22 pm


i once believed that the whole of spiritual formation was summarized in that sing-song phrase “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”

then i learned a little about the classic spiritual disciplines of the Christian life from a quirky quaker and my understanding of formation expanded as i learned to meditate, journal, celebrate and fast for the good of my soul and the glory of God (ok, i’ve never been any good at fasting, but every hitter has a whole in his swing).

now, i’m slowly beginning to realize, in a halting manner that readily betrays my discipleship disabled ass, that every experience, relationship and moment provides an opportunity for formation. take baseball, for instance.

although we are only three games into the season, i have already seen how fear still tempts me to duck away instead of leaning into life. i committed a couple of egregious sins of commission (i.e., mistakenly giving my slow-footed catcher the green light to steal second with one out) and omission (failing to contest a judgment call and so encouraging my players to buck up to the blues themselves) last night from the third base coaching box and as a result i am, quite frankly, afraid of calling the shots again tonight. my failure to act led my players to ignore my leadership on the bases (to our peril), question my passivity in the dugout and lose their focus on the game. as a result, i had difficulty sleeping, i’ve felt like obliterating my jitters by punching a fucking wall all day and i would rather not suit up and show up to twi field tonight.

but i know that capitulating to my fears would not only harm my reinforce my tendency to duck, dive, dodge and duck from whatever life hurls at me, but could also ruin my relationships with my players and feed the insecurities that try to keep me captive. so i’m choosing to lean in to this experience and see what i can make of both this season, and subsequently, my life.

i wouldn’t say that i’m overwhelmingly optimistic about tonight’s game, but i still believe that even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2006 at 5:14 pm

brew crew banter

last night anthony bonosaro, or bonar for short, led us to our first victory of the season. bonar through seven complete innings of one run ball, was 2 for 3 at the plate and brought what appeared to be the entire cast of porky’s VI along to cheer us to victory.

other highlights included:

the thwacking of two ground rule doubles, one by justin negrotti and one by pete i’talien, our short stop (the latter hit may or may not have been more valuable if i had not put the hit-and-run on the pitch before)

the other anthony, our eighteen year old left fielder, getting rung up on a bull-shit check swing call by the fattest umpire since eric gregg (i might have gotten into a rather heated “conversation” with the umpire about the validity of this call)

rooney, pope and I celebrating our victory with free bratwursts, german potato salad and sangrias at our neighbor’s bbq

pope steadfastly refusing – for the most part anyway – his inclination to fraternize during the game

tonight and tomorrow night we have two huge games against swampscott and peabody. wish us luck!

btw – applications for 2006 ball bitch are still available. let me know if you’re interested.

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2006 at 12:14 pm

all aboard

when i was a kid, i often loathed calling grand central station home. at our house the phone rang constantly, family and friends came and went constantly and nine months out of the year the front door was wide open, inviting people to look, lean and live into our lives. although generally hospitable to our guests and usually courteous on the phone, i was often sequestered in my room where i sought silence and snapped at interruptions.

fueled by adolescent angst i often hated the non-stop energy of that place and swore i would live differently. i swore i would live differently.

but here i sit, in my own house, following old patterns by (presumably) seeking silence in my room. the phone has yet to ring, but no less than five people have been in and out of the house in the last hour, one friend is in the process of moving out of our front room so that another can move in, kellie and becky are clanging around in the kitchen, cade and alex are talking over the french open in the living room and the front door is open. the front door is open.

feel free to look, lean and live into our life. i’ve freely set aside my angst and have accepted my role as a supervisor of grand central station east. make no mistake, i still want my silence, but i hope this is a place where strangers are welcome, friends become family and faith finds feet.

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2006 at 5:17 pm

a couple of conversations

this morning kellie told me that she would be returning from work later than usual because she has an appointment with galadriel* to get her eyebrows waxed. since galadriel is a trans-gendered person, i made some throwaway lament about her “leaving me for galadriel,” and thought that was that. but it wasn’t.

a couple of hours later, one of my co-workers, a Jew who married a Catholic and has a sister that is borderline fundamentalist Evangelical, dropped by my cube to talk about her sister’s friend who is a former methodist minister. the former qualifier was stamped upon this woman because she recently married a trans-gendered person. of course, the full story is more complicated than that. it almost always is. the reason the former methodist minister married the trans-gendered person is because she was widowed by her methodist minister husband who struggled mightily with chemical depression and ultimately decided to take the short road home. Apparently, a few years into her widowhood the former methodist minister found a nurturing relationship with this trans-gendered person – according to my co-worker they both have kids, love God and are a perfect match – and they decided to make their union official. my coworker unraveled this rather confounding narrative to me because she is distressed that the trans-gendered woman, who is married to the former methodist minister, is going to take her life because she feels almost completely alienated from society and the church. apparently the pastor of the methodist congregation that the couple attends recently barred the trans-gendered individual from receiving communion and my co-worker fears that rejection might become a tipping point. confused yet? i was.

after my co-worker finished telling this story i almost trotted the one thousandth variation on the “God loves them just the way they are, but too much to leave them there” soliloquy. my co-worker knows that i am some stripe of pastor, so i felt somewhat compelled to provide the evangelical position on this issue. but i didn’t.

instead, i sat back and thought about how proud i am of my wife, who knows how important it is to love and leave it to God to judge. i hail from a culture that often sets that equation up quite differently. back home, in the spit shined buckle of the Bible belt, it often seemed like our Christian duty was not to engage homosexuals, adulterers and addicts with the love of God, but to disengage from them, lest the merest hint of their sin stain our souls. as i reflect on my experiences in that place and culture that I dearly love, it seems that we often twisted paul’s admonition to “judge those in the church,” for those who sinned outside the church were usually the objects of our snide comments or malicious disengagement, while those who “stumbled” within the church were showered with unconditional love.**

where am I going with this? places i don’t yet understand and have doubts about my ability to find.

here’s what i can tell you, one of the greatest gifts that my wife, the sinners and saints community and the emergent conversation has bestowed upon me is the ability to love others and leave the judgment to God. does this mean that i am “soft on sin?” i don’t think so. i actually take the life-threatening consequences of my sin, the shortcomings of our community and the systemic sins that plague all institutions really seriously. does this mean that i’m a proponent of trans-gendered marriage or think that the methodist pastor’s decision was completely out of bounds? i’d have to answer both questions with a slightly qualified “no.” i think the marriage issue is a really tough one because it is a referendum not only on our morality but also upon our understanding of church and state. moreover, i am quite sure that the methodist minister has struggled mightily with his decision and is probably between a denominational rock and a personal hard place.

in sum, all i’m saying is this: Jesus said that he did not come for the healthy, but the sick, not for the righteous, but the unrighteous. moreover, Jesus never side-stepped the eventuality of judgment, but he led with love.

he led with love.

i think it’s best that i follow his lead and leave the judgment to Him. and i am so deeply grateful that i have a wife, a community and a conversation that is helping me to do just that.

*her name has been changed to protect her anonymity. but rest assured, the nom de plume does reflect her incredibly unique name.

**james ault summarizes this tendency quite well in his spirit and flesh: life in a fundamentalist baptist church. if you haven’t read this volume, you should.

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2006 at 2:27 pm

rear entry gentry and kevin smith clark present: office conversations that make us want to crack f&%#ing skulls

maybe it’s just us, but we think that since seinfeld signed off some eight years ago, intriguing water cooler conversation has slowly gone the way of the buffalo. seinfeld gave us so much: opportunities to replicate the contest, chortles about shrinkage, annoying new greetings…now all we’ve got is gossip about america’s damn idol and britney’s fertility.

so, lest we stalk through our offices with liquid cooled AR-15s, we would like to let you know that any conversation that starts with…

“did you watch idol last night?”

“hi, this is _______, looks like we’re playing phone tag.”

“actually, gas is five cents cheaper at…”

“moving forward..”

“can you believe this weather?”

“is it cold over there? ‘cause i’m freezing over here.”

“where are we going to grab lunch today?”


makes us want to crack fucking skulls. just though you should know.

if there are particular conversations that you want us to steer clear of, let us know. we’re big on relational reciprocity like that.

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2006 at 2:57 pm

where i muse about my mistress

as pathetic as it sounds, my greatest regret in life is failing to put it all together as a pitcher. “pitching is 90% mental.” i’ve heard that phrase so many times it has become cliché and have internalized it to such a degree that it is now dogma. i suspect that phrase, “pitching is 90% mental,” is scratched in the margins of the new covenant that has been carved on my heart. but no matter how many bullpen sessions i endured or critiques of my mechanics i absorbed i simply could not adequately reconcile my b+ arm with a f- head. i understood the concepts of pitching well enough, had carefully studied grips and schematics of mechanics in my head, but this knowledge never enabled me to pound the zone or keep my cool when i failed to do so. i think there’s a metaphor for concerning the relationship between theology and praxis in there, but i’m too tired to flesh it out.

maybe next year i’ll get in shape, cut it loose and see if a more developed head can make use of my rapidly declining ability. until then, i’ll continue to serve as a coach and ball bitch for the beverly brewers.


well that was a sappy way to introduce a spankin’ new storyline. last night the brew crew had our second game, but the first one i was able to attend. although i have to admit that returning to a dugout after a ten year absence was relationally (i knew the names of 3 players before the game began) and physically (damn, these kids are big. i’ve never felt more like a pencil neck than i did last night) intimidating, after a couple of innings i was screaming at umpires and muttering imprecatory curses at my players like an old pro. good times.

here’s a sporting question for you baseball fans. if your team is getting no-hit in the bottom of the seventh and has failed to hit a single ball out of the infield all evening, do you drop a bunt down to break up the no-no?

of course, this is a theoretical question. we didn’t get no-hit last night or anything…


okay, so i confessed that i’m currently the brewers ball bitch, but it’s not a responsibility that i treasure. so, if you have thirty some odd free evenings this summer, enjoy taking the shine off of brand new baseballs with a little bit of dirt and don’t mind scrambling down a rocky cliff in order to pluck game balls out of a forest bog, feel free to apply for this open position. although this is a non-paying position, it is not without benefits. our ball bitch can expect to be constantly hit upon by our hormone laden, adolescent bench warmers and so reap the fruits of a revitalized self-esteem, develop sumptuous calf muscles while scratching for balls and, after the game, receive one free drink for every three rounds that she carries to the team table at the pickled onion.

if you’re interested in this position, you’ll want to apply soon since aime is already winning the hearts of our bench warmers and has her heart set upon fraternizing with our starters.


fortunately lboros is neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. bonds did not hit his dinger in the first or second game of the series and did not play in the third (a lop sided affair which featured more footage of drunk fat men trying to get in and out of mccovey cove without cracking their skulls than it did of the game itself). unfortunately, albert pujols has now decided to be barry bonds’ chief advocate – he has publicly declared that he hopes bonds breaks the hammer’s record and has openly wondered whether ‘roids are really that beneficial for players – and new found chum. i have to agree with Bernie miklasz when he asserts that pujols harms his reputation by bonding with bonds.


does my incessant baseball chatter annoy people as much as american idol conversations annoy me? if I hear one more comment about kelly clarkson, wolfgang puck, and/or the startling use of a lobster, my head’s going to explode!

by the way, i now believe that american idol has usurped the WWE’s place at the bottom of the culture pool. if we ever have to deport members of our society for the purpose of population control, i think the pecking order will look thus:

a) american idol fans. sorry mom!

b) the regular viewing audience of wwe raw.

c) nascar fans. just so you know: those who have the number “3” stuck to their car windows, honored in their dead drivers memorial gardens or shaved in their hairy backs, will go first.

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2006 at 4:51 pm

concerning the meet

you can catch up with these guys:

over there.

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2006 at 5:02 pm

is lboros a prophet or a son of a prophet?

yesterday, lboros – the finest redbird writer in the blogosphere – made the following prediction:

“now comes the king of steroids, still a-questing after no. 715. he’s gonna hit it against the cardinals, no question about it — the set-up is too rich with poetic justice for him not to. what better manager for him to hit it against than the one who gave baseball’s original steroid sinner, joe canseco, his first big-league job — and presided over needle-tainted clubhouses across two decades and two franchises? and what better team for barry to inflict the indignity on than the one that witnessed the juice-fueled destruction of homerdom’s other mystical number, 61?”

there is little doubt that lboros’ forthtelling (or speaking truth about the present) is right on. as every book on ‘roids that is worth its salt has noted, la russa is linked in a circumstantial, if not causal, way to the genesis of the steroids era.

that being said, let us hope that lboros is as shitty a foreteller as he is a spectacular forthteller. i, along with the rest of the flock, do not want to have to cringe everytime we see a poster of, or merely think about, 715.

you can read the rest of his article here.

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2006 at 1:57 pm

where you are, ain’t where you wished you would be…

over the last couple of days i’ve felt a strong leading to spend time praying over, listening to and walking the diz through the crossing, which isn’t exactly compton but is one of the rougher neighborhoods in beverly. on account of my association with bootstraps i know quite a few people, most of them kids, in the neighborhood so i usually don’t find this five block area as unsettling as some.

however, yesterday when the kids i’ve known for years either blatantly ignored the sight of me or opened with the question “what are you doing down here?,” and one of the guys that keeps his office on one of the street corners said something that suggested he was more hostile towards than interested in the diz, i realized how much of a stranger i really was. the crossing may be only six blocks from the house, but in some ways i am a complete stranger in those environs.

this feeling of displacement that clung to me like smoke made me wonder how my after school kids feel when they are bussed over to complete their homework in the damp, cool basement of the big white church. as they practice their multiplication tables with moonlighting private school teachers and receive frequent admonitions from middle class strangers such as myself do they feel as displaced as i do as i traverse their streets? moreover, when the older kids venture through the upper middle class neighborhood on the east side of town as they make their way to the beach, do they feel as alien as i do when someone pulls back their paper thin curtain to take a cursory peek?

although the few moments i have spent in the crossing as of late have been charged with internal dissonance and a strong sense of displacement, i suspect that it is in the midst of such awkward environs that God really molds me. perhaps, instead of shying away from the crossing in order to spend more time in my safe, middle class context, or, on an even more practical level, instead of intellectually, emotionally and relationally disassociating myself from my awkward and taught with tension work environment, I need to lean into these experiences and let the Spirit shape me in the midst. i have a strong, growing suspicion that it is in the midst of displacement that i’ll hear God speak, see the divergent strands start to converge and feel all of creation trembling with God’s redemption.

i don’t know…much of anything, actually. furthermore, i am far from the first to suspect or say such things. but that’s where i’m at right now.

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