"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Dungy Tragedy

I felt like I was in good company when I saw Coach Dungy downing a bowl of cereal while occupying the driver's seat of his SUV. Seven years ago his son Jamie, then in 6th grade, was one of two kids to get picked up outside the gate of the Avila subdivision by the private school van. The other passenger was our daughter, then in the 9th grade. Every morning there would be two adults (Tony or Lauren Dungy, and my wife or me) waiting in their respective car with their kid. We'd drive over from the "poor" side of town. On one of those mornings was when I noticed Tony enjoying his cereal behind the wheel. Up until then I had only known myself to eat cereal in such a location. "Good company," I thought to myself.

My memories of Jamie are of a tall kid with skinny legs, glasses, lugging a back pack, wearing a school uniform, getting out of the family SUV to get into the school van. That's it. I never got to meet Tony or Jamie personally at these stops as Tony never got out of his car. He had the sense not to do that as I probably would have started drawing up plays on the back of my local rag and offering them to him there on the street.

Now Jamie is dead at age 18. Tony, his wife, four other children, a host of family, friends and acquaintances are left to grieve and move on with their lives.

The stories eminating from this tragedy are numerous. Teens killing themselves. The selfishness of suicide. Dealing with guilt. Living with pain. Balancing work and family. Living in a fish bowl. What ifs. Dying too young. Why us? Why me? What went wrong? Missing warning signs. How will it affect the kids? What about myspace.com? To tackle all of these would use up all of the available hard drive space in the known universe.

No doubt Tony and Lauren have mulled over what they did wrong or where they fell short as parents. They've likely dismissed these feelings of guilt knowing God didn't create them to be perfect. No mortal is. They did the best they could and made lots of sacrifices. Then the guilt thoughts come back and you dismiss them again. They cry, they reminesce, they hug, they reflect, they rally, they get overwhelmed, they pray, they go to sleep and then the sun comes up the next morning. Five of those new mornings have come since "then." They're likely counting.

Tomorrows will never be "the same" for the Dungys. And that's Gods plan. None of our tomorrows are meant to be the same. We're hear to grow and to die. Jamie's apparent suicide did not catch God off-guard. Jamie didn't die behind or ahead of schedule. God is not rewriting the rest of history to accommodate this "glitch." The Dungys know this and are likely praying their witness will testify that they're cognizant they serve a God who's incapable of making a single mistake. This faith doesn't absolve them from going through the grieving process but it does help them to live effectively in the near and distant future.

Families are meant primarily to serve as an institution for advancing the Christian faith, not to be living material for Hallmark moments. When a child predeceases a parent it generally rattles a family more but ultimately the grand purpose for life remains unchanged. Tony's focal position in his All Pro Dads ministry can continue to flourish despite the loss of Jamie. One could argue that Tony can identify with a larger cross-section of fathers now, having lived the role of the father who lost a son to apparent suicide. No one could blame him if he bowed out of the ministry either. In time Tony will probably make the right decision.

Tony has likely preached a lot to the players he's had under his wing the past few decades. This past week he didn't say much to anybody but his actions were shouting. He walked through one of life's toughest tragedies, with nary a word to the media, nary a complaint, with his faith in tact. Scores of NFL players likely thought to themselves they deserved what he got, he didn't, and look what happened. Perhaps God chose a man who could handle such adversity because He's preparing him for something he couldn't otherwise accomplish without first having undergone this trial. We don't know. Time will tell.

Much has been made of Tony's faith this week. That's truly a byline though. Tony's faith is in a big God. The only true God. The One in Whom Tony places his faith is so much more important than Tony's faith in and of itself. Any faith a Christian man has is itself a gift from God. The bigger story is God injected Himself into the forefront of the minds of many this week with the Dungys being the supporting cast. Joseph and Mary, parents of Jesus Christ, can relate to the "inconvenience" of having God interject Himself into their lives for a larger purpose. Joseph and Mary overcame God's "intrusion" and its hoped the Dungys do too. We'll all benefit, and God's Kingdom on earth will forcibly advance.

God bless the Dungys as they avail themselves to the Comforter.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Expunging Shame

A couple of lesser emphasized verses from the Christmas story are found here:

Matthew 1:18 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily."

"Public example" is rendered "disgrace" in other versions. Mary was pregnant and her betrothed--Joseph--and her, hadn't yet consummated their betrothal. Making the only reasonable assumption he could, Joseph sought to break things off with Mary because he believed she violated the Fifth Commandment--Thou shalt not commit adultery. You know the rest of the story. The angel appeared to him in a dream and explained it was the Holy Spirit that impregnated Mary and that he shouldn't be afraid to take her as his wife.

It's interesting that they lived in a society that understood adultery to be disgraceful. Our society today accepts, embraces and often trumpets adultery. With adultery redefined there's a concomitant acceptance of other sins and a pervasive deterioration in society at-large. Illiteracy, divorce, devaluation of currency, the increase in the power of the state, and the marginalization of families are evidence of the influence and escalation of adultery in our culture.

This didn't happen overnight. It's a slow, incremental process that silently and subtlely devours people indiscriminately with immense consequences. Much like onslaught of wrinkles and muscle wasting (i.e. aging), the acceptance of improper behavior isn't often realized until a good chunk of time has passed. Tis the season to wake up so we can all get jolly more often.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Measles, Shmeasles.

With a handful of cases of measles this year (37; see related story here) being related to the bug being brought over from overseas the CDC is extolling the triumph of the vaccine. "It's the success of the vaccination program," said Dr. Gustavo Dayan, with the CDC. According to the report, almost 10% of kids weren't vaccinated against measles and they didn't die either. Hhhhmmmm?

If you review this chart you'll notice measles-precipitated deaths declined nicely over several decades before there ever was a vaccine. Maybe the vaccine has marginal benefit at best? Maybe the adverse reaction potential outweighs the benefits? I suspect the 2 million or so kids that didn't get the vaccine will look back one day and be glad they "missed out" on that one.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Confusion

Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas? What greeting is a reveler to deliver?
America's continual "spiritual cleansing," with respect to commercial advertising during Christmastime, has sparked many a conversation during this eggnog-ladened, "holiday" season.

Christians should have seen this coming. Even in decades past when retailers spouted "Merry Christmas" in their advertisements, it was usually as much a business decision to use the "C-word" then as it is not to use it today. Ultimately this community purging of anything "Christmas" will reinvigorate the Christian experience of the Christmas season as we opt to spend less time in sanitized, de-Christmased malls and stores in favor of more time spent with our church families and close relatives.

Christmas isn't going away. Those who go out of their way to purge or deny its existence face an uphill struggle sprinkled with holiday defeat.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chick-Fil-A fileted competition

This past Friday a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant violated political correctness etiquette in multiple ways, only to reap windfall cha-ching ($$$). Decked with a myriad of lights, fake snow falling every 30 minutes in the drive-thru, Christmas signs, and a Christian school elementary choir, the lines inside to buy food were packed. If other Christ-slapping businesses adopted a like approach I suspect they too would rake in more bling. But I suspect many CEOs would prefer to lose a little cash rather than acknowledge there was once a Baby infinitely wiser than they'll ever be.

For more on Chick-Fil-A click here.

Redeeming Fat

With the Christmas season upon us, the inevitable war against guilt for overindulging kicks in. Or maybe it doesn't. Only you know for sure.

If maintaining weight is an objective for you over the next few weeks then it's better to be sugar- and carb-conscious, more than it is to be fat-conscious. Unless of course you dig the yellow oils in the plastic bottles on the grocery shelf. Those are rancid and very unhealthy. Unfortunately, we all have Christmas recipes that call for a cup of that slippery, yellow substance. "Evil" lurks at every corner and grocery shelf, doesn't it?

Most people don't realize that refined sugar and simple carbohydrates (white rice, potatoes, bread, bagels, doughnuts, etc.) either get burned swiftly or get stored as fat. They also jack up your insulin levels which your arteries and insulin receptors don't like. Good fat, on the other hand, is blood sugar-friendly and a great source of fuel for the body. If you want a good read on fat then check out this article from jigsaw health, or Tara Lapinski's (Certified Nutritional Consultant) article here.

Disclaimer: This article and links from it are based upon the opinions of the respective authors, who retain copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. One should make their own health care decisions based upon their own research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Welcome to the Great American Empire (GAE), formerly known as the U.S.A. I said that to a friend of mine yesterday in preparation for bemoaning the loss of our past. Our country that is. I'm only 46 but that's long enough to have witnessed radical changes in America on multiple levels.

In 1983 I began reading the Bible for essentially the first time, sans some Sunday school readings back in the 60s. I was a closet reader though for about 3 years, not allowing most everyone I was reading "that book." By the summer of '86 though I was sufficiently transformed by the Spirit and even appeared on television a couple of times in the early 90s defending the Bible. Against a cultist once, and a pornographer another time. That was a tetonic shift for me indeed.

And it's time for another outing today. I see America as an empire and not as a constitutional republic. On a functional level we're supposedly a democracy, but in name only. While that may not come as a surprise to many of you it's cathartic for me to make it wider known.

Bad news can often send one into denial. An acquaintance once shared with me how he responded to the emergency room personnel informing him his wife just died in a car wreck. They were in their mid-30s at the time. It just didn't sink in with him at all at first. To continue on in life in a meaningful and functional capacity he would have to acknowledge his wife indeed did die, and move on. He did, after a proper period of mourning. If he lived in unbelief it would have been to his detriment and everyone in his midst. And so it is with us Americans. We can live with the belief "our" party (D- or R-) can lead us back into safety, fiscal sanity, and the hopes for a bright tomorrow, if given the opportunity, or we can acknowledge that both the Dems and the Repubs, at least at leadership and policy-setting level, are incapable of fulfilling their obligations.

This article, "Signs of Empire," is one in which I find much agreement. It does close ominously and perhaps pessimistically when it states the end is not far away. I'll not go that far yet. One could make a strong case that the end was near once Lincoln shredded the Constitution (see Vallandigham, Clement) , or when the Federal Reserve was created (1913), or when Roosevelt started Social Security, or when Roe v. Wade passed. There are other watershed events worthy of consideration.

The G.A.E. will certainly change in momentous ways at a pace in which the Boomers and geriatrics are unfamiliar. Having a reasonable grasp of what God is doing/allowing in the world will certainly help in decision-making when planning for the future. Availing oneself to the Lordship of Christ and His church is the number one thing. Getting over the warts and moles of Christians is the second. And again, make friends. Make lots of friends. Good friends.