Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SuperBowl: Brother vs. Brother

I came across two articles on the coaches going to Super Bowl XLI. A lot of talk has been made about the fact that they are the first African American coaches to go to the Super Bowl. But there's another interesting element to the story.

They are good friends, and they are also brothers in Christ.

The coaching philosophy of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is family first, football second.

"For your faith to be more important, for your family to be more important than your job, it's things we all talk about and we all know that's the way it should be, but we're kind of afraid to say that sometimes."

You can read the entire article about Dungy, here: He Did it His Way

Both coaches believe in showing respect to their players, refraining from yelling and cursing at their players, keeping a calm demeanor, and enjoying the game for what it is--a game.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said,

"I think our styles are similar as far as trying to treat the players like men and expect them to behave that way," he said. "There's a certain standard we have for them. As you look to young coaches coming through the ranks, a lot of us have this picture of what a coach is supposed to be, how he's supposed to act. I think what guys like Tony Dungy showed me is that you don't have to act that way."

Read the USA Today article: Super Coaches Share Deep Bond

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Seek Context

Though they have all grown up and left the roost, all of my kids still live fairly close. Sometimes on Sunday evenings we try and get together for dinner. My wife, or one of my daughters usually will prepare a full course meal, and we all sit at the table together and enjoy conversation.

It is a rare moment in our lives, and I fear it is becoming less and less commonplace in the lives of many Americans.

We now live in a rush-rush, fast-paced world. Sadly, the art of cooking for the family seems to be making a slow fade into extinction.

Is it that we don't have the time? Or that we don't make the time?

Immediacy is now expected in almost every area of our lives. We want what we want fast, and with as little mess and preparation as possible. Email, cell phones, microwave ovens, and fast food—we've got to have it now. ATM machines, online banking, quick, in-and-out oil changes, mechanized car washes, all speak to our obsession with speed.

And don’t we all despise responding to a computerized recording when we call a customer service department?

Have you caught that television commercial where a man paying cash at a fast-food restaurant is portrayed as a menace because he is slowing down the "machinery" that is otherwise working so well? Every other customer is using their VISA card, but he reaches in his wallet for cash, and everyone crashes into each other. Even the overhead shot is made to look like a set of gears and pulleys—a fine tuned machine. The spot is quite clever. But it is also dehumanizing. It portrays people as machine parts.

News broadcasters now give us their stories in short clips and fast-moving imagery. Everything is packaged in short, easy to digest, bites. When USA Today founder, Al Neuharth, launched his paper in 1982, part of his mission was to provide news and information in smaller chunks for quicker absorption.

No longer do our radio stations play from a wide playlist of sounds like they once did. When I was a young man, I could listen to Motown, rock, folk, and everything in-between, all on one radio station. Today, I must choose what genre I prefer, because the stations—over the air, over satellite, and over the Internet—are all specialized. Our lives have become "nichified." We can pick and choose just about anything we want—a meal, a song, or even a way of looking at the world. And if we don't want to, we don't have to be bothered with things that don't interest us.Technology, for all the good that it can bring, has, I fear, lessened the quality of our lives.

Getting things faster means getting more things in the same amount of time. But faster does not equal better, and more does not guarantee improved.

Our intellects are dimming. A good “liberal” education once meant a broad-based exploration of themes from literature, history, art, science, and at one time, even religion. The goal was to provide the student with a well-rounded, integrated view of life. Now, a “liberal” education usually means an indoctrination into progressive, humanist ideas with a clear, political slant to the left.

Education, too, is becoming more and more “nichified.” College graduates who have studied computer technology, or some other specialized field, often come away from school with very little knowledge of literature, history, and the other “classical” fields of study. It is astonishing how many college grads cannot find a country like France on a map of the world.

This specialized, selective approach to learning and understanding means that we are vulnerable to losing context. And context is critical. I am amazed at how many Christians still segregate their lives into categories, not seeing that the Holy Scriptures provide us wisdom not only for our individual walk with Christ, but for all of life—everything from business to politics to education to world affairs.

We should continually cultivate a hunger for learning, for understanding.

Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV
13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.