Odds And Ends

A few bits and pieces I wanted to mention without dedicating a post to each of them:
  • Although ESPN isn’t announcing it yet, it looks like Memphis head basketball coach John Calipari will be heading to Kentucky. I don’t like Calipari at all, but he’s an incredible recruiter, and depending on how many of his Memphis recruits followed him to Kentucky, the Wildcats could become an overnight National Championship contender. After a down year, this is a step in the right direction for the SEC.
  • I was glad to see that Chipper Jones signed a contract extension with the Braves that will last through 2012, which basically means that he’ll spend his entire career as a Brave. Injury problems are always an issue with Chipper, but as he showed last year, he’s still one of the best hitters in the game when healthy.
  • We finished our taxes last night, and let’s just say that it didn’t go as well as last year. That “…Render unto Caesar…” verse isn’t looking too appealing at the moment.


Observation #5

If America really does run on Dunkin’, that would go a long way toward explaining our considerable obesity and heart disease problems.


The Worst Church Song Ever

A very long time ago, I started a series called Best and Worst, in which I examine the best or worst of all time in a given category.

Except, technically it isn’t a “series” until now, because I forgot all about it until I became acquainted with The Worst Church Song Ever a couple of weeks ago.

For those of you who have spent a significant portion of your life singing church songs, if you’re like me, you probably have your share of favorites (Abide With Me, Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, Let The Lower Lights Be Burning), as well as your share of songs that you would rather never sing again (Follow Me, Ivory Palaces).

This post isn’t about any of those songs though. It’s about We’re A Rainbow, a song that I discovered in our homemade youth song book a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, there’s no music to the words, and since I don’t know anyone who knows the song, I have no idea how to sing it, but you can read the lyrics for yourself:
“We’re a rainbow made of Christians,
We’re an army for the Lord.
We’ve no weapons that can harm you,
Christian love is much too strong.”
I don’t really even know where to begin, but I’ll try.

First of all, the song is really, really short. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re going to only have four lines, they need to be very good lines, and these aren’t.

Secondly, there’s no real attempt made at following any discernable rhyme scheme. I guess that’s small potatoes compared to the rest of the song’s problems, but it just helps to make the words of the song seem even more randomly chosen.

Third, a good song should convey a clear message. The message of We’re A Rainbow seems to be that Christians are a loving rainbow army, and I’m not really even sure what that means. Maybe I’d have a better sense of the message if the song itself was longer than 25 words.

Fourth, the different lines of the songs are all…wait, let’s just stop right there. I’m sorry, but I just can’t continue to pretend to seriously analyze a song that starts off with “We’re a rainbow made of Christians…”

My humble nomination for the title of The Worst Church Song Ever.

UPDATE: I recently received an email informing me that I only had the chorus to this song, and that the full lyrics are as below:
“We’re a rainbow made of Christians,
We’re an army for the Lord.
We’ve no weapons that can harm you,
Christian love is much too strong.”

So we sing in Unity,
‘Live and Love Eternally,’
so become a Child of God,
and enjoy a life of peace.

When you’re feeling sad and lonely,
and you cross is hard to bear,
come to Jesus, he will teach you,
to obtain sweet peace through prayer.”
While I still think the chorus is somewhat hard to stomach, the verses are certainly a big improvement.

My apologies for the inadvertent mistake.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I’d heard countless references to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy during my lifetime, and I knew it had something of a cult following, but I really didn’t know anything about it until I read it a few weeks ago.

Now having read it, the only thing I can really say is:

It stinks. I think it might be the most mind-numbingly stupid, plotless book I have ever read.

It did succeed in getting me to laugh a couple of times, but since it tried to get me to laugh dozens and dozens of times, this doesn’t seem like much of a success either.

I know it’s a popular book, but really, I don’t get its popularity at all. If you’re a Hitchhiker fan, I hope I haven’t offended you, but maybe you can explain to me why it shouldn’t be considered a strong contender for The Worst Book Ever Written?


The Presidential Bracket

ESPN has been buzzing the last couple of days about President Obama filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket, and have been showing his picks on a segment of Sportscenter.

Leader of the Free World or not, I don’t think President Obama’s bracket is a very good one (after all, his Final 4 is identical to mine!). Nevertheless, I think it’s neat that the same March Madness that appeals to so many people apparently interests our Commander-in-Chief as well, and I think it was a good PR move for him to release his bracket publicly.

Some people are complaining about Obama taking time out from dealing with the serious issues facing our country to do something as unimportant as fill out a basketball bracket, but I think that’s a little ridiculous, considering that it probably only took him about 10 minutes.

Of course, if President Obama spends as much time watching this year’s tournament as I am planning to, then we might have something to talk about.

You can see all of his picks here.


NCAA Basketball Ranting

I haven’t spent much time talking about college basketball this year, mainly because the Arkansas Razorbacks have been doing a lot of campaigning for the title of Worst Team Ever.

Nevertheless, it is time for March Madness, which, as a sports fan, is my favorite time of the year.

But I was irked yesterday when the NCAA tournament field was revealed with only three SEC teams, and none of them seeded higher than 8th.

The SEC has had a down year, and it has no truly elite teams, but three teams, all seeded between 8 and 13? That’s ridiculous.


New House: When A Garage Can Be A Bad Thing

I haven’t written about this much, but back in January, Caroline and I moved from the apartment where we had lived for the past two years to a 3-bedroom house that we are renting.

One of the more pleasant benefits of our new house is that it has a 2-car garage. Being able to enter the house basically via remote control is nice, and not having to scrape ice of your windshield in the winter is completely awesome.

However, having never lived anywhere with a garage before, there are some things about having one which I’m learning as I go.

For example, back when we had the big ice storm in January, we lost power at our house, the garage door no longer worked automatically, and I didn’t know how to get the door up so we could leave. I figured it out eventually though.

Yesterday, upon returning home from work, I had another lesson in Garage Ownership 101. On the way home, I had been listening to some talk radio, and as I pulled into the garage, I was interested in what one particular caller had to say. Without thinking, I closed the garage door and sat there for several minutes with the car running, listening to the radio.

Of course, I’ve seen enough movies to know that leaving the car running in the garage with the door down is a popular suicide method, but that didn’t occur to me until I finally got out of the car and was assaulted by a garage full of my own exhaust fumes. I began to cough and even after entering the house, felt light-headed for a while.

So here’s the lesson: apparently filling up your garage with carbon monoxide fumes really is a bad idea. I don’t recommend it. If the radio’s really that interesting, turn off the engine and sap some battery power.


The Power And The Glory

The Power and the Glory is considered by many to be Graham Greene’s finest work, and after reading it myself, I can see why.

The story centers on a nameless “whiskey priest” who is being persecuted by a ruthless government in a Mexican state in the 1930s. The priest makes an interesting protagonist, and is the vehicle used by Greene to examine the nature of sin, repentance, faith and other deep issues.

If any of these issues interest you, I highly recommend The Power and the Glory. It’s great.

I’ll leave you with one quote I liked a bunch:
“It was for this world that Christ had died; the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater glory lay around the death. It was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or a civilization—it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.”


Hope Vs. Fear

“We have chosen hope over fear.”
—Barack Obama, January 21, 2009

“A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe.”
—Barack Obama, February 4, 2009

So much for hope. It was fun while it lasted.

A New Look

As you may have noticed, things are looking a bit different around The Doc File today.

I had grown tired of my old blog template and had been wanting to change it for some time, but I finally did something about it last night.

It’s not perfect. I don’t exactly like how the header looks and there are some different things that I plan on tweaking, but overall, I’m pleased. I think this template looks cleaner and, for lack of a better word, more professional than what I had before.

Let me know what you think. But before you do, remember that I spent a long time working on it last night and that I’m very sensitive.


“No Longer Worthy”

Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt van Rijn

Luke 15 is my favorite chapter in the entire Bible because it contains one of the most famous parables of Jesus, The Prodigal Son.

It’s a parable that many are familiar with. It begins with a father who has two sons. The younger son demands his portion of the inheritance while his father is still alive and then takes the money he receives, moves to a distant country and squanders all he has on riotous living. With all his money gone, he is forced to take a job working with pigs until he finally comes to his senses and decides to return to his father, realizing that even the servants in his father’s house enjoy better lives than he currently has. But when the son returns home, his father greets him with open arms and celebrates his return with a feast. The older son resents the warm reception that his younger brother receives, but is rebuked by his father:
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
It’s a wonderful parable, and there are a multitude of lessons that can be learned from it: the freedom that God gives us to leave Him or follow Him, His eagerness to welcome us back and forgive our sins, the perils of being the older brother, the false promises of the “far country”, and more.

But a while back while reading the parable, I was struck by something I had never thought about before. In Luke 15.21, when the Prodigal returns to his father, he launches into the speech he has prepared:
“‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
The son describes himself as “no longer worthy.”

I feel very similar sometimes when I run from God, when I commit sin and then return to Him.

But it’s not the proper mindset to have.

Not because the unworthiness aspect is inaccurate—certainly we are unworthy of being God’s children. No, the inaccuracy comes from the words “no longer” which imply that at some point we were worthy of being God’s children, and that simply isn’t true.

The Prodigal Son wasn’t a son because he somehow earned or deserved that relationship, but because he was born into it, and his father chose to treat him as a son whether he deserved it or not.

Similarly, our relationship with God doesn’t depend on our worthiness, it depends on His love. We are not his children based on how much good we’ve done, but based on His willingness to have a relationship with us at all.

We feel guilty when we stumble, and we rightly feel that we don’t deserve a relationship with our Heavenly Father. But we must remember that we never deserved that relationship in the first place.

That’s the great thing about God—He loves us despite our unworthiness.


The Catcher Was A Spy

For a while I’ve been meaning to write a post on Nicholas Dawidoff’s The Catcher Was A Spy.

The story focuses on the life of Moe Berg, a back-up Major League catcher who later became a spy for the OSS (precursor to the CIA) during World War II.

I received the book over 11 years ago on my 14th birthday (Seriously? That was 11 years ago?!), but after a previous false start back in 1997, didn’t get around to reading it until this past Christmas.

Part of the reason for it taking me so long to get around to reading the book was a poor assumption on my part. When I tried to read it the first time around, I abandoned the book at the point when Berg retired from baseball, not realizing that his work as a spy would be considerably more fascinating than his life as a ballplayer.

Rather than post a series of quotes from the book, I’ll leave off with the main effect that the story of Moe Berg produced in me.

Sometimes, I feel like I live a small life. My work can seem unimportant and unnoticed, my life unspectacular and relatively obscure. I think a lot of people feel the same way.

As a professional athlete and an undercover spy, Berg experienced not one, but two exciting, storybook careers. He was an immensely talented individual who had a number of famous friends and acquaintances and his own share of fame as well. In short, Moe Berg had the type of life that most people dream about having.

Despite all that, the portrait that Dawidoff paints is of a largely unhappy man who never really fit in anywhere and was never able to develop deep long-lasting relationships with anyone.

The Catcher Was A Spy is a fascinating biography that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in baseball, espionage or nuclear physics (Berg’s WWII spy work centered on the Nazi Atomic Bomb project), but that wasn’t why I liked it so much.

I liked it because, at least for me, it served as an invaluable reminder about what really matters in life.

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