Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Pacers and Life

DISCLAIMER - If you don't like sports, this post won't do anything for you.

We have a saying in Indiana that "In 49 states, it's just basketball, but this is Indiana." 

We do love our basketball in Indiana, and we do pride ourselves on understanding the game and having a passion for it.  I would suspect it is very similar to a Minnesotan and their hockey, or a Brazilian with their soccer.

Last night, something took place that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on.  The Indiana Pacers took on the Miami Heat in a game 4 of a best of 7 series. The Pacers were down in the series 2-1, so a loss to the Heat would mean the Pacers would be down 3-1, virtually impossible for any team to come back from.

So for the Pacers, last night was "do or die" "backs against the wall" basketball.

And what took place last night was disgusting basketball.  I don't mean "non-aesthetically pleasing" I mean a dumpster fire. 

I say this not as a fan upset that we lost (I really don't care all that much at the end of the day, if the Pacers lose to the Heat)...I've seen a lot of losses, and this was the worst, most pathetic loss in my 34 years of watching and participating in sports.  This was so bad, it was epically bad.

The Pacers played with no effort
The Pacers played sloppy, almost like they didn't care
The Pacers were pouty and conveyed a sorrow for themselves
The Pacers were dominated early in the game, and instead of trying to fight back, just rolled over even further

Then, worst of all, the Pacers, following the game, blamed the officials for the loss. 

I started the game hoping the Pacers would win, but after my brothers and I turned the game off at the end of the third quarter, I was glad the Miami Heat were winning, because they deserved it and we did not.

Here's why I was raise this epic failure to bring effort, intensity, energy, etc. - because you might lament this fact, but a lot of young people look up to these guys.  A lot of kids and teenagers learn their life lessons through watching our sports heroes perform on (and off) the court. 

If pro baseball player so and so chews tobacco, little johnny wants to too
If pro football player so and so takes steroids, little johnny wants to too
If pro football player so and so beats on his wife or is arrested for a DUI, little johnny wants to too
And if pro basketball player plays with intensity and effort and class in the face of adversity, little johnny will want to become a person who is tough and classy in the face of adversity as well.

Sports teach kids life lessons, like it or not, and so last night, at least in the area I live, mattered.

The Pacers' game was so disgusting because they had every reason in the world to play hard, they had every reason in the world to play with intensity and effort, they had every reason to step up in the face of adversity, and they just flat out quit.  Any Indiana fan knows you are going to have bad shooting nights, nights where the other team's shots are falling, etc. but last night was just a failure to care, and that was sickening to watch, especially knowing how many youngsters look up to our Pacers.

...and then to blame the refs!

What does that tell a kid about life?
If you experience difficulty in life - blame someone else?
If you don't work hard - blame someone else?
If you don't do your job - blame someone else?

It was gross to watch, and unless the Pacers come out with a completely different attitude, then the way the Pacers have been trending throughout these past few months, but especially last night, just turned me into the latest fan of the Miami Heat, a team who DOES play hard and wants to win, and a team that (at least on the court) sends the right message about how to approach life and adversity to its young fans - life requires intensity, desire, hard work, and effort.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

But Father...Why are You Saying There Will be a Persecution?

Does the Federal Government Get Anything Right?

As reports surface concerning the disgusting treatment of Veterans (or rather their NONtreatment), it again raises the question - what is the point of the federal government?

The Church has a very important but often unknown teaching - that of subsidiarity.  "Subsidiarity" says that the Federal Government AND corporations should be AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE, and that large companies and the federal government should only handle those tasks that can't be handled locally.

Our Federal Government is actually pretty good at the two things it SHOULD be doing anyway -
1) highways
2) national defense

I can't think of anything else that
1) the Federal Government SHOULD be involved in
2) the Federal Government does well in the United States

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thoughts from Being on a Marriage Panel

A few nights ago I was asked to sit on a panel at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology's Free Thinkers.  I was asked to represent the Christian position.

I wasn't really nervous as I have complete faith in Luke 12:11-12 ("Do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”)

I'll admit I did smile a bit when I sat down next to the "neutral" lawyer who was only going to offer legal commentary, and he had a book printed off - "614 reasons why marriage equality matters"

The guy on the other side of me was a "secular humanist" who had four things written down, and one of the lines was just "genitalia"  I though to myself "Oh boy!"

But it went really well, and I think most people were surprised by the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage.  

Most people know the Church is against it, but they don't understand "why" the Church is against same-sex marriage.  The Church doesn't say "you need to make Catholic laws the laws of your country", the Church says something very simple:

"Here is a small list of FIRST PRINCIPLES that every country must utilize if they want to thrive and not implode.  Right to life, marriage between a man and a woman, only engage in just wars, religious freedom...and if you get these wrong, your society will not endure."  

The irony is that EVERYONE has first principles, but NOT ALL FIRST PRINCIPLES ARE CREATED EQUAL.  

One guy on the panel said "I think it all comes back to harmony and peace"...okay, if those are your first principles, where do they come from?  What is harmony?  What is peace?  Why are they the most important?  

The Church is actually the only one talking any sense in this discussion.  Our first principles come from the Church instituted by Christ who is God.  God is the unmoved mover and that from which words draw their meaning.  

But where do the words "justice" "harmony" "equality" "tolerance" "love" etc. come from for someone who doesn't believe in God?  Who defines those words?  Are they words that all of us "just understand"?  If they are, who says that we all understand them?

Here's the question we need to be asking people in this discussion - "what are your first principles...what do those words mean...who says those are what those words mean...and why are they universal?"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tolkien on black masses

"For all those arts and subtle devices for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child's model or a slave's flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury prison, furnace of great power, The Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding it's time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength."

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Archbishop Chaput Endorses "The Third Way"

Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has endorsed "The Third Way"

"'The Third Way' is an exceptional film: a brief, articulate, deeply moving portrait of faithful Catholics living with same sex attraction.  Anyone seeking to understand the human realities involved in a very difficult issue needs to see it."

Find a Gospel that tells us more about Jesus...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Congrats to My Sister and Brother!

Some of my siblings are up to big things right now.

First of all, my sister Emily is tearing it up in a big-time production of Les Mis at Carmel's Civic Theatre.  A review of the play appeared in Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, and the review tabs my sister as the standout female performance (you can read the review by clicking here).  If you're in the area, check out the show. 

Secondly, my brother Matt just received an award from the Archdiocese for being the outstanding teacher of the year.  I was able to teach with Matt for two years when I was the priest/chaplain at Cardinal Ritter High School, and he truly has a gift for teaching, and he also is able to miraculously convey the Catholic Faith to his students, even though he is a math and science teacher.  Matt was on the front page of our archdiocesan newspaper, but they never posted a link to the story, so I just took a picture of the front page myself.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Confirmation, My Brother, and Reggie Miller

18 years ago today, several important things happened.
1) My brother Nathan was born
2) I was confirmed
3) Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 9 seconds to beat the dreaded New York Knicks

The irony of all this is that for most people, including probably myself at the time, my Confirmation was the third biggest thing to happen that day.

My priorities have since improved dramatically, but today also reminded me of one of my favorite song quotes, and it comes from Wyclef Jean:

"See the serpent plays tricks,
Runs game like the Knicks,
Builds you up just to lose the championship!"

I couldn't pass on the chance to thank God for my Confirmation and my brother Nate, while also getting another shot in on the Knicks!

Saint John Paul II Video to Artists