Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chatard Trojans Own the Dome

Back when the football stadium in Indy was known as the Hoosier Dome, the Bishop Chatard Trojans won the inaugural high school championship. The year was 1984. It was my junior year.

The last 23 years brought about a name change to the dome, a class change for Chatard from 2A to 3A, and several inches to my waistline. But the glory of Chatard football remains.

The Trojan football team now shares the distinction with only one other team as having the most state championships--NINE!!!
I witnessed the first two of those during my sophmore and junior years at Chatard. Though I didn't play high school football, I was a proud member of the squad's 12th man.

The 1984 game was most memorable for its location, the sparkling new gem on the Indianapolis skyline, the $82 million Hoosier Dome. With memories of that game on my mind, I returned to the dome for this year's championship game. I wasn't disappointed. Save for a late fumble, the Trojans would have shut out South Bend's St. Joseph. It was total domination from the first whistle.

I had to be there to witness the last high school football championship to be played in the famed dome. Next year, retractable-roofed Lucas Oil Stadium becomes the shining new gem on Indy's skyline and the dome will be razed. The memories, however, will live on. I'm just thankful that Chatard was able to begin a legacy there in 1984 that lives on today.

Congrats to the Trojans, state champions for the ninth time, an Indiana High School Athletic Association record!

Photo credit: Joe Vitti, The Indianapolis Star, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Conquering Caffeine

Almost 18 months ago I blogged about kicking the caffeine habit in a post titled Making Java History. While I'm not totally caffeine-free today, I am proud to report that my morning ritual now consists of 1-2 cups of half-caff coffee.

Yay me!

Now, I never was a Starbucks junkie or a member of some java cult, but I was addicted to my full-strength, morning cup o' joe. I even ventured into chickory for awhile (it's like the crack additive to coffee, dealt down in the bayou). When I drank more than a cup, I usually perspired more and sometimes felt jittery. When I missed it completely, I would get a headache. But the withdrawals were very minor.

There are some days when I forgo the coffee altogether, opting for a more health-conscious alternative, like bottled water. Those days are 50-50 on whether I make it all day without a cup of coffee, but if I falter, I always go half-decaf. Rarely ever do I drink a soft drink with caffeine, opting most often for Sprite and sometimes root beer when nothing else is available.

I post this for caffeine addicts everywhere who think its impossible to quit. If I could go cold turkey over a year ago, you can do it too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Ragamuffin Confessional

Brennan Manning says,

The ministry of evangelization is an extraordinary opportunity of showing gratitude to Jesus by passing on His gospel of grace to others...To evangelize a person is to say to him or her, You, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. And not only to say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it. This is what it means to announce the Good News. But that becomes possible only by offering the person your friendship--a friendship that is real, unselfish, without condescension, full of confidence, and profound esteem (The Ragamuffin Gospel, p.124).

I first blogged about this last year in a rant titled A Ragamuffin Reality, but the last part of the quote struck me again just recently.

I've been discussing with some friends online what it means to be a friend, to be a Christian and to know Jesus. And while I don't pretend to have all the answers, I do think that relationships are key to experiencing and knowing God. I don't mean some fantastical relationship with an unseen deity. I believe we can find God by investigating the people around us and investing in relationship.

A relationship takes initiative, trust and the ability to listen. Too often, I'm too lazy to make the initial investment. The first step in any effort is usually the toughest for me. But once I take that step, I have to then fight through the fear of being discovered. Trust is not an easy barrier to overcome, especially when your confidence is low. And once the first two barriers are broken through, I find myself doing a lot of talking and not enough active listening.

A relationship requires that I let down my guard. Letting my guard down requires some semblance of humility. Humility proves that I don't have it all together and runs counter to my nature...but it runs right to the core of Christ's nature, who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Paul's Epistle to the Philippians).

If only I could mirror that kind of humility in my own life.

Are you a ragamuffin like me? Do you struggle with relationships? Do you often fail at living the Good News?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another Helping of Christianese, Please

Recent conversations over at The Ooze have reminded me what I don't miss about going to a typical church, namely "Christianese." If you've gone to church much or hung around many Christians, then you've heard Christianese. It's that secret language those people use to communicate things about God, faith and right living. I've blogged before about the bad taste it leaves in my mouth.

I guess my detoxification is complete, because when I hear Christianese now, I get that queesy when Mom broke out a new can of Chop Suey. Yum! Well, when discussions began about what Jesus wants from his followers and how one "gets to know God," I got that same sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Sure, Jesus wants us to love God and love others, but when you ask most Christians what it truly means to love God, you'll get a myriad of answers. As one participant in the discussion describes it, you should go on dates with God. Of course, being the sarcastic twit that I am, I asked if God should always pick up the tab, or if his date is always responsible for 10%. (Editor's note: check out this humorous look at least I hope it was meant to be funny.)

If you can't verbalize what it means to love God without turning Billy Graham on me or resorting to some cheesy verbage from a Vacation Bible School tract, then don't bother. Christianese is like nails on a chalkboard to someone, like me, who is a recovering evangelical, pentacostal. I can hardly stand it.

Talk to me in simple, everyday terms. Make yourself plain. Get your head out of the clouds (or whatever cavity it's stuck within) and be real. You can't go on dates with an unseen deity and its quite difficult to hold a conversation with someone who doesn't talk back...well, except in your head, and those voices probably aren't the Almighty.

So what does it mean to love God? And hold the Christianese, please.