Bible Discussion — Ephesians 5-6

02/26/2009, 12:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

This week, Bweinh.com discusses the last two chapters of Ephesians, in our final Bible discussion!

Joining us for the last time are our special guests from both parts of Romans 8 — Capt. Steve Carroll, Rev. Dave Maxon, and Maj. Doug Jones!

Read it all here!

PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS:
Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14-15 | 16-17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
Esther: 1-2 | 3-5 | 6-8 | 9-10
Acts: 1 | 2 | 3-4 | 5 | 6-7 | 8 | 9-10 | 11-12 | 13-14
15-16 | 17-18 | 19-20 | 21-22 | 23-24 | 25-26 | 27-28
Jonah: 1-2 | 3-4
Ephesians: 1-2 | 3-4

 
INTRODUCTION:
Tom:
Paul closes with a primer on living a Godly life, quickly hitting the major areas of most people\’s experience.

Capt. Steve:
Jesus railed so hard against the empty legalism of the Pharisees, because He was not offering a new system of rules but rather a relationship with the Creator through Himself.

These two chapters contain two sets of ‘rules’ — both are intended to show an example of the loving relationship that we can and should have with our God. But both sets are often misused: to further unloving and sometimes hateful agendas; to pursue a Pharasaical religion of accomplishment; and even to follow a lazy religion, because it is easier to attempt to follow rules with the safety net of forgiveness, than to develop an authentic relationship.

Maj. Jones:
It is my privilege to participate in this final Bible discussion in this forum. God has been glorified in these discussions.

David:
The final two chapters of Ephesians offer a great resource for Christian living — they speak to men, women, and children and their various roles within families and the community. The teaching on “slaves and masters” is also very relevant if you simply replace those words with “employees and employers.”

Pastor Dave:
These chapters are a reminder of how Christians should act and think. Above all, we must stand against the wiles of the devil, those compromises the world would have us make to “fit in.”

Job:
As the Church took root in places like Ephesus, I’m sure many of the early Fathers must have desired — at times — for a return to the laws of the old covenant. Immorality of all kinds must have seemed so incongruous with the recent teachings of Christ, yet perhaps ran relatively rampant. Paul had to remind the early believers of their greater moral heritage without stealing any of Liberty’s thunder.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Connie:
Chapter five was a great follow-up to our church’s sermon on Sunday, which was on light. We need to set our hearts to walk as children of light, and this chapter admonishes us to walk in love, light and wisdom. I believe that when we walk in the light, we’ll be in position to pick the rest of that up as we go.

Job:
Paul tells us in 5:1 to imitate God. I guess I’d always read that, for one reason or another, as imitating Jesus. One could make a convincing argument, though, that Paul meant it interchangeably — but if we were given the charge to imitate God without knowing the narrative of Jesus, the results would be dramatically different.

Capt. Steve:
Whenever you find a list of rules for righteous living in the New Testament, you invariably find a verse pointing to the heart of the law.

Pastor Dave:
When we die to ourselves, we are a “sweet-smelling aroma” to God.

Steve:
Paul urges the Ephesians to specifically pray for him — of all people — for boldness in preaching the Gospel. He didn’t take anything for granted, even after years of faithful witness under persecution.

Tom:
In verses 31 and 32 of chapter 5, was Paul saying a husband and wife becoming one was a mystery to all of us, or just to him as a bachelor?

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
Job: Leads to Debauchery
Josh: Talk of Fools
Pastor Dave: Shod Your Feet
Connie: Girded With Truth
Steve: Alert
David: Ambassador In Bonds (better than Alice in Chains)
Capt. Steve: Divine Imitations

Continued here!

Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 5

01/30/2009, 11:52 pm -- by | No Comments

A Cardinal rule
1947’s luck
Has more than run out

Best of Bweinh! — Married/Single Clash

11/21/2008, 11:00 am -- by | 3 Comments

In this corner, defending the sanctity of marriage, is Tom!

And in this corner, loving the freedom of the single life, is Djere!

Married life is the best kind of life there is. Trading freedom for security has always been the way we roll here in the U.S. of A! So many rough areas of a man’s life can be smoothed out by the delicate touch of a feminine hand.

Decision-making is a prime example. Making decisions is a lot of work. Where to live, what job to take, what to wear? Who has time to figure out the proper choice in all of these important areas? Most single men learn to make decisions quickly, weighing options and coming to decisions so fast that the process seems almost primitive in its simplicity.

The married man can still quickly reach a simple decision, but it is never the end result. Instead, it’s just one stop on the interminable amusement park ride central to any marriage: the discussion. By looping around and around the many possible choices, a man with a skilled spouse eventually comes to see the ignorance of his original choice, and the unparalleled superiority of the course his wife has already selected. Eventually these “discussions” can strip a man of his desire to make an initial choice, streamlining the entire process!

Marriage also lets a man grow beyond the boundaries he places on his social life. Many single men prefer the company of a particular group of friends, spending the majority of social time with them, coming to know them well. Once a man is married, these constraints are taken from him, and he can come to full social fruition. New friends he would not have chosen! New activities he does not enjoy! An entire new family with whom to spend holidays, reunions, excruciatingly boring conversations, and arguments!

And chores! Once a man has a wife, he has a partner with whom to split the domestic tasks central to any household. A single man has no assistance in performing these chores, and no helper to decide when they should be done. It’s true that marriage brings a man a tidier house, but with a spouse helping, the net decrease in work will be offset by the extra discussions that will fill the saved time, in lieu of radio, television, or blessed quiet.

It’s true that some freedom is lost. If I were married, I couldn’t keep the random and flexible work schedule I enjoy. I wouldn’t be able to spend my leisure time any way I like, I wouldn’t have as much time for quiet reading, I might not amuse myself so much with the Internet dot com. I certainly wouldn’t be able to drop everything and take a trip, change my plans at the last minute, or do any of the other things that make me the man I am.

No, I would become a different man, a better man, with a thousand chips of my very nature shaved away by the delicate chisel in my wife’s knowledgeable hand.

I only hope that man will think of the old me fondly from time to time, as he lives his life to the beat of his life’s new drummerette.

If he can find the time between discussions.

You know, when you’ve been married as long as I have (almost three weeks!), you almost forget what it was like on the other side…

Being single has its advantages. Gas mileage, for example. With only one person in the car, you’ll use less gas, you know, when you drive places… alone. And you’ll never have to worry about another person changing your radio stations. In fact, you never have to be exposed to any tastes other than your own! Gosh, that does sound pretty good… cruising down the highway of life — alone — listening to the same old songs on the radio…

And there are benefits outside your motor vehicle as well. Like at work! Now that I’m married, Karen calls me at work once or twice a day. But if I were single, think about how great it would be: eight uninterrupted hours without hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the telephone line. Even better — eight uninterrupted hours without hearing the person I care about more than any other say, “I love you.”

Yep, being single sure has advantages. I mean, at home you’ll never have to worry about someone messing up your stuff, the kitchen, unmaking the bed, or leaving the toilet seat in your least favorite position… because there’s never anyone there. In fact, when you’re single, you have the immense joy of doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and chores yourself. All by yourself. Sure, you can daydream all you want that the next time you’re at the laundromat, there’ll be a pretty, single girl there who shares your joy of separating whites from darks for a bleach load, or your cultivated taste in fabric softener… but probably not.

And who does this ‘God’ fellow think He is? “It is not good for man to be alone.” What’s that all about? Certainly people weren’t designed with a helper in mind, a divinely inspired counterpart, like that “Bible” of yours says in Genesis 2:18.

When you’re single, you’ll experience neither the joy nor the pain that having a spouse brings. You don’t understand what Solomon means when he writes, “you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes.” Just the numb comfort of loneliness and hope deferred.

Man, those were the days!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a loving wife to attend to. Cheers.

Which side are you on?
View Results

Presidential Haiku Prediction 1

11/3/2008, 1:59 pm -- by | No Comments

Beauty and Maverick
versus record fund raising?
Barry by a nose.

Bible Discussion — Acts 9-10

09/17/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | 4 Comments

This week, Bweinh.com moves on to the next two chapters of Acts.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS:
Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14-15 | 16-17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
Esther: 1-2 | 3-5 | 6-8 | 9-10
Acts: 1 | 2 | 3-4 | 5 | 6-7 | 8

 
INTRODUCTION:
David:
In chapter 9, we see the conversion of Paul, and catch a glimpse of his struggle to be accepted by the early believers. In chapter 10, we get a glimpse of the “First Pope” acting very un-Popelike by refusing to allow Cornelius to show him any reverential deference.

Steve:
Here is the most pivotal moment in the life of the most influential man in history. The chief of sinners met the sinners’ Friend, and nothing would ever be the same.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Steve:
Saul didn’t eat or drink anything for the entire three days he was blind in Damascus. What a time that must have been for him and those he was staying with.

Also, when Peter came to pray for then-late Dorcas, the crying widows crowded around him, to show him the clothes she had made. “You’ve gotta bring her back, Pete! Look at how flattering this line is!”

Tom:
Ananias saw fit to remind Jesus of who Saul is. “Um, I don’t know if you heard, but he’s kind of a bad dude.” Have we tried to explain things like that when prompted to witness to or pray for leaders/bosses/neighbors?

Connie:
Barnabas brought Paul into the group (9:27). Since we mostly focus on Paul’s writings, we tend to think of Barnabas as Robin in this little duo. He didn’t start out that way — he was probably more of a mentor and protector at first, and they may have ended up equals eventually, for a while anyway.

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
David: The Italian Band
Connie: Caesarean Summons
Steve: Eat the Reptiles
Tom: Lydda
Josh: The Way

Continued here!

From the Phone 3

09/13/2008, 3:41 pm -- by | No Comments

“I’ve never seen a PT Cruiser driver and thought, ‘You know, I was wrong about them.’ “

From the Phone 2

09/11/2008, 10:28 am -- by | 1 Comment

“My apartment hallway always smells like some unholy onion fraternity spent the night hazing the Vidalia freshmen.”

Best of Bweinh! — Crosswords v Sudoku

09/5/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

In this corner, arguing for the superiority of crosswords, is Djere!

And in this corner, on the side of Sudoku, is Tom!

The true gridiron classic, the crossword puzzle simply outclasses its numerical counterpart.

The crossword puzzle (in its modern form) dates to its 1913 invention by Arthur Wynne, but word squares have been found even under the ruins of Pompeii, a testament to their timeless popularity. Shortly after Wynne’s initial “Word-Cross,” the crossword puzzle again took the world by storm, easily becoming its most popular word game. Crosswords require finesse, creativity, logic, a firm grasp on language, and a sense of humor.

Sudoku, on the other hand (if that’s how it’s spelled), is a newcomer to the puzzle world, invented in 1974 by Howard Garns. Unlike the crossword, which requires creativity, logic, and knowledge, Sideko is solved by logic (or luck) alone.

And speaking of alone, Saduka is usually solved alone, a testament to the poor social and hygiene skills of its practitioners. The crossword is truly a democratic puzzle — the game of the everyman. Think back to the last time you saw someone hunched over a newspaper, pen (or for cowards, pencil) in hand. A crossworder may look up, make eye contact, and speak directly to you. “Hello, friend,” they might ask, “What’s a four letter word for ‘killer whale’?” It’s more than solitaire, it’s an interpersonal event… it’s proper socialization! It’s community!

Replay that scene in your mind, but substitute the lesser puzzle of Suck-doku. Instead of eye contact, your feral co-worker will likely make indiscriminate marks on the page, muttering to himself, never quite acknowledging your presence or humanity. Years later, after failing to complete even one square, he is, frankly, quite likely to snap and firebomb your company warehouse.

Oh yeah, and size does matter, baby. From the standard 15×15 grids of your weekday puzzle all the way up to the Weekly World News’s 35×35 Bigfoot puzzles, crosswords trounce Sakodu’s petty 9×9 grids. Aesthetically pleasing, the crossword contains radial symmetry, contrasting white and black squares in interesting designs. Suducu’s only claim to fame is that every puzzle is as boringly plain as the last.

What’s it going to be? The logic, beauty, and cruciverbial wonder of the crossword, or the irritatingly confining multiplication table that is Sydyky?

P.S. If anyone could help me with 26-Across — “Wish to a traveler,” eight letters? Yeah, thanks.

Crosswords and Sudoku are very similar, really.

Both combine the excitement of painstakingly filling out small grids in a strictly regimented way with the fun of sitting quietly. Both are presumed by many reliable sources as activities that build the intellect. And both are best enjoyed responsibly.

However, if one of the two had to be sacrificed from our nation’s coffee shops, subway trains, and lecture halls, the choice would be simple:

We would have to ditch the crossword.

Sudoku is, by its very nature, inclusive. Speaking the universal language of numbers, a Sudoku puzzle spreads its grid wide enough to encompass people from any culture, any walk of life.

Crosswords trend toward the opposite extreme of exclusion, taking on themes so obscure as to alienate the vast majority of those initially drawn to their checkerboard good-looks and witty tete-a-clue-tete. Glamour without warmth is not what I look for in a woman, and absolutely not what I want in a pastime.

Sudoku’s simple, yet elegant rules can be learned in minutes. Place each digit, 1-9, one time in each row, in each column, and in each 3-by-3 square.

Compare that to the nuances of a typical crossword puzzle. If there’s an abbreviation in the clue, does that mean the answer is abbreviated as well? In what tense do they want this word?

And what’s with all the Latin?

I’ll admit — Sudoku is a relatively new addition to the flashy world of the comic-page. But even considering the Jumble, word-search, and the behemoth that is the New York Times crossword, Sudoku remains one enigmatic David who can take up nine smooth digits and get the amusement done.

Which side are you on?
View Results

One Hundred Words (14)

06/4/2008, 9:00 am -- by | 3 Comments

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” –2 Cor 6:14

This verse has often been used to discourage close association with unbelievers, and most classically to discourage “missionary dating.” But its core idea can be extended as a warning to know and beware the ideas of those close to you.

What if Barack Obama had taken Jeremiah Wright’s vitriol a little more seriously? What if Beirut had not chosen to overlook Hezbollah’s history and message of violence while letting it build Lebanon’s infrastructure?

Close relationships are incredibly valuable, but when you link yourself to someone’s good, you’re attached to the bad as well.

–TM

Clash of the Titans LXXXII: Married v Single

05/21/2008, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

In this corner, defending the sanctity of marriage, is Tom!

And in this corner, loving the freedom of the single life, is Djere!

Married life is the best kind of life there is. Trading freedom for security has always been the way we roll here in the U.S. of A! So many rough areas of a man’s life can be smoothed out bythe delicate touch of a feminine hand.

Decision-making is a prime example. Making decisions is a lot of work. Where to live, what job to take, what to wear? Who has time to figure out the proper choice in all of these important areas? Most single men learn to make decisions quickly, weighing options and coming to decisions so fast that the process seems almost primitive in its simplicity.

The married man can still quickly reach a simple decision, but it is never the end result. Instead, it’s just one stop on the interminable amusement park ride central to any marriage: the discussion. By looping around and around the many possible choices, a man with a skilled spouse eventually comes to see the ignorance of his original choice, and the unparalleled superiority of the course his wife has already selected. Eventually these “discussions” can strip a man of his desire to make an initial choice, streamlining the entire process!

Marriage also lets a man grow beyond the boundaries he places on his social life. Many single men prefer the company of a particular group of friends, spending the majority of social time with them, coming to know them well. Once a man is married, these constraints are taken from him, and he can come to full social fruition. New friends he would not have chosen! New activities he does not enjoy! An entire new family with whom to spend holidays, reunions, excruciatingly boring conversations, and arguments!

And chores! Once a man has a wife, he has a partner with whom to split the domestic tasks central to any household. A single man has no assistance in performing these chores, and no helper to decide when they should be done. It’s true that marriage brings a man a tidier house, but with a spouse helping, the net decrease in work will be offset by the extra discussions that will fill the saved time, in lieu of radio, television, or blessed quiet.

It’s true that some freedom is lost. If I were married, I couldn’t keep the random and flexible work schedule I enjoy. I wouldn’t be able to spend my leisure time any way I like, I wouldn’t have as much time for quiet reading, I might not amuse myself so much with the Internet dot com. I certainly wouldn’t be able to drop everything and take a trip, change my plans at the last minute, or do any of the other things that make me the man I am.

No, I would become a different man, a better man, with a thousand chips of my very nature shaved away by the delicate chisel in my wife’s knowledgeable hand.

I only hope that man will think of the old me fondly from time to time, as he lives his life to the beat of his life’s new drummerette.

If he can find the time between discussions.

You know, when you’ve been married as long as I have (almost three weeks!), you almost forget what it was like on the other side…

Being single has its advantages. Gas mileage, for example. With only one person in the car, you’ll use less gas, you know, when you drive places… alone. And you’ll never have to worry about another person changing your radio stations. In fact, you never have to be exposed to any tastes other than your own! Gosh, that does sound pretty good… cruising down the highway of life — alone — listening to the same old songs on the radio…

And there are benefits outside your motor vehicle as well. Like at work! Now that I’m married, Karen calls me at work once or twice a day. But if I were single, think about how great it would be: eight uninterrupted hours without hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the telephone line. Even better — eight uninterrupted hours without hearing the person I care about more than any other say, “I love you.”

Yep, being single sure has advantages. I mean, at home you’ll never have to worry about someone messing up your stuff, the kitchen, unmaking the bed, or leaving the toilet seat in your least favorite position… because there’s never anyone there. In fact, when you’re single, you have the immense joy of doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and chores yourself. All by yourself. Sure, you can daydream all you want that the next time you’re at the laundromat, there’ll be a pretty, single girl there who shares your joy of separating whites from darks for a bleach load, or your cultivated taste in fabric softener… but probably not.

And who does this ‘God’ fellow think He is? “It is not good for man to be alone.” What’s that all about? Certainly people weren’t designed with a helper in mind, a divinely inspired counterpart, like that “Bible” of yours says in Genesis 2:18.

When you’re single, you’ll experience neither the joy nor the pain that having a spouse brings. You don’t understand what Solomon means when he writes, “you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes.” Just the numb comfort of loneliness and hope deferred.

Man, those were the days!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a loving wife to attend to. Cheers.

Which side are you on?
View Results

Best of Bweinh! — Genesis 1-4

05/7/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

Every Wednesday, we discuss a passage from the Bible, and this week, we reprint our very first — Genesis chapters 1 through 4.

 
INTRODUCTION:
Steve:
It seems there’s a widening dichotomy these days between those who read the opening to Genesis as a scientific textbook, and those who see it as an ancient creation myth, on par with the claim that Earth rides on the back of a giant turtle.

I stake a claim between those two positions, believing wholeheartedly in the divine creation of the universe as told in Genesis, while remaining largely unconcerned about specific details undefined by the text. This story was not meant to answer all the scientific and philosophical questions surrounding the origin of the world; if it had been, it would have befuddled all its readers, ancient and modern. What it tells us is enough, and what it tells us is not only perfectly compatible with the discoveries of science, but God’s simple and singular command for light to ‘be’ seems more and more apt as the Big Bang is explained theoretically.

Job:
I’ve always wondered if this springboard to the Bible, these first four chapters, is where most people in their darkest hour flip – having turned to God in anger, frustration, pain or confusion. Subsequently, I’ve always wished that the Gideons would put their “recommended reading” page right between the first and second chapters. An ambush of sorts.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Djere:
2:23 is in poetic form. It’s more than just a quote, Adam notices Eve and just casually says what he does, but he says it in the poetic form.

Tom:
1:11 notes that plants came before animals, an evolutionarily sound idea.

Job:
In the first verse of chapter 3, the serpent is described as being more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made. Am I to think then that God made domesticated animals alongside them for provisional purposes, implying the known need for future sacrifice?

Josh J:
One theory of The Fall is that eating the forbidden fruit represents Adam and Eve discovering their sexuality. The Scriptures rule out this possibility: 1:28 contains a command to “be fruitful and increase in number.” Since there’s only one way, by God’s own design, to accomplish this, human sexuality is actually God-ordained.

Steve:
Some complain the first two chapters of Genesis are incompatible, that the Biblical creation account can’t be true because it’s self-contradictory. But re-reading these chapters, I see it more like the classic structure of a sermon, essay or speech — start off with an overview, then zoom in on the particular point you want to make. The retelling of the creation of man gives more details, not contradictory ones, and it explains a lot.

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
Tom, Djere: Bdellium
Steve: Tunics of Skin
Job: Vengeance Seven Times Over
Josh J: Surface of the Deep

  Continued here!

Clash of the Titans LXXVII: Basketball

04/11/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

In this corner, supporting basketball, is Mike!

And in this corner, opposing it, is Tom!

Those who dislike basketball need to meet my wife. I\’m 6\’3” and she\’s 5\’3”. I\’m stocky and she\’s, well, slight. (At least she was before she was pregnant, but that is not the point of this story nor is it particularly wise to say.)

When pressed to choose, most assume that I was the high school basketball player in our home. After all, I\’m a fair shooter and a middling rebounder. But I was not the high school varsity player ”” she was.

This is because basketball is the most egalitarian game one can play. A $10 basketball and a neighborhood court, YMCA, or high school gym, and you can play. No bats, no helmets, no pads.

There are no height requirements; there are advantages to being small and quick, and advantages to being a giant though slow afoot. There are advantages to being able to shoot 30 feet from the basket, and advantages to banging around under the hoop.

Basketball also can serve as a language when words will not do. I spent seven summers working as a camp counselor at a local YMCA in a small, economically depressed city near my home. Though my charges were near-universally of a different color from me, though we spoke differently and had different heroes and role models, basketball was a way I could communicate with them. Whether it was a standing challenge to beat me in H-O-R-S-E or running five-on-five with local high school kids, it was a way to fit in, a way for my ideas and being to be taken seriously, a way to break down barriers between us.

Perhaps basketball could even help President Bush\’s much-maligned foreign policy. A game of 21 with Kim Jong Il? Around the World with Kofi Annan? One-on-one with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ”” if we win, they have to take North Dakota; if they win, we have to take Manitoba?

The possibilities are endless ”” thanks to basketball.

A sporting event is a contest, a pitting of self against other, in which there can only be one champion. The players are combatants, playing through pain, injury, and weather to bring the battle to a close. But not so basketball. No, organized basketball is most often played indoors, protecting its mollycoddled players from the danger of sun, rain and wind. A polished wooden floor and sterile fluorescent lighting lend a bleak aura to the basketball landscape.

The Mayans in pre-European America had a similar sport. But their hoop was vertical, their court was outdoors and there was no use of the hands. Any child can toss a ball through a hoop with their opposable thumbs, but try doing so with a bounce off a hip. Combine that with the imposing physical nature of basketball’s ideological predecessor and you have a sport worth playing!

In contrast, modern basketball players are kept apart throughout the “struggle,” the least physical contact resulting in a foul. They trot up and down the court like so many braided-maned polo ponies, either bouncing the ball against the ground while they prance or limply slapping at it in an attempt to jar it from another’s control. The observed proper technique for these slaps leaves the wrist hanging as limply as the decorative nylon netting that hangs, streamer-like, from hoops at either end of the court.

These aforementioned hoops separate basketball from true sports of the people. Without the resources to find a tall pole with an attached hoop of metal, a young person cannot practice this loathsome pastime. But any enterprising youth can find a stick and a ball, improvise some bases, and have a rousing game of baseball. Likewise can be improvised a soccer pitch, with markers delineating the goals’ width and a spirit of good sportsmanship their height. The only firm requirement for these sports is space.

From the super-short super-tight shorts of the 70s to the ridiculously baggy ones popular today, basketball has long acknowledged its status as court jester in the kingdom of sport. Yes, basketball remains true to its roots: slapdash construction of a peach basket with a hole in it, dreamed up by some Canadian to give his students something to do when it was too wet to go outside and play a REAL sport.

Which side are you on?
View Results

Best of Tom — Being “Individual”

03/8/2008, 5:00 pm -- by | No Comments

Originally published March 7, 2007.

It’s only fitting how the concept of individuality can take such different forms in different people. You can claim your style of dress sets you apart, or your taste in music, the sports you like to watch, the sports you like to play — even the sports you like to dislike. Political party affiliations or opinions, hair and make-up style, or views on any philosophical idea can be expanded to become, in one’s mind, the trait that sets self apart from other.

The idea of individuality’s “forms” came to me while I mused over the meaning of a recent dream. I briefly considered using a “meaning of dreams” Google search to find a “professional’s” opinion of what my dream meant, but quickly pooh-poohed the idea. Knowing as I do that dream “interpreters” will, like psychics, psychologists or actuaries, keep their ideas as general as possible, I felt it futile to even bother looking. Then it occurred to me that an idea applied to everyone can still be applied to me. Just because something is a mirror in which anyone can see his reflection does not mean he can’t use that image to spot the crumbs in his beard.

For years, our culture has loudly and superficially valued uniqueness as one of the most admirable character qualities, while subtly rewarding those who maintain the status quo. The subculture as a concept exists to allow a piece of society to swallow one person’s view of his own uniqueness, rendering him as much a sheep as any other member of society. By clinging to their superficial individuality, these people become even more seamlessly integrated with their fellows.

A more realistic way of looking at things would be to acknowledge the fact that any and every aspect of your life is duplicated almost exactly in countless other people. There’s no need to resign yourself to this fact, because the sum of these disparate aspects is certainly unique. Focus on doing things you enjoy, follow trends if that’s what you want, and accept that your horoscope was spot on – you did meet someone and gave them a second chance to make a first impression, and they turned out to be a totally cool person!

Just don’t dye your hair, clothes and taste in music black, and think it makes your sheep black too.

Best of Bweinh! — Romans 8 Discussion

03/5/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

Read Part One here, and Part Two here!

Clash of the Titans LXIX: Crosswords v Sudoku

02/12/2008, 4:18 pm -- by | 8 Comments

In this corner, arguing for the superiority of crosswords, is Djere!

And in this corner, on the side of Sudoku, is Tom!

The true gridiron classic, the crossword puzzle simply outclasses its numerical counterpart.

The crossword puzzle (in its modern form) dates to its 1913 invention by Arthur Wynne, but word squares have been found even under the ruins of Pompeii, a testament to their timeless popularity. Shortly after Wynne’s initial “Word-Cross,” the crossword puzzle again took the world by storm, easily becoming its most popular word game. Crosswords require finesse, creativity, logic, a firm grasp on language, and a sense of humor.

Sudoku, on the other hand (if that’s how it’s spelled), is a newcomer to the puzzle world, invented in 1974 by Howard Garns. Unlike the crossword, which requires creativity, logic, and knowledge, Sideko is solved by logic (or luck) alone.

And speaking of alone, Saduka is usually solved alone, a testament to the poor social and hygiene skills of its practitioners. The crossword is truly a democratic puzzle — the game of the everyman. Think back to the last time you saw someone hunched over a newspaper, pen (or for cowards, pencil) in hand. A crossworder may look up, make eye contact, and speak directly to you. “Hello, friend,” they might ask, “What’s a four letter word for ‘killer whale’?” It’s more than solitaire, it’s an interpersonal event… it’s proper socialization! It’s community!

Replay that scene in your mind, but substitute the lesser puzzle of Suck-doku. Instead of eye contact, your feral co-worker will likely make indiscriminate marks on the page, muttering to himself, never quite acknowledging your presence or humanity. Years later, after failing to complete even one square, he is, frankly, quite likely to snap and firebomb your company warehouse.

Oh yeah, and size does matter, baby. From the standard 15×15 grids of your weekday puzzle all the way up to the Weekly World News’s 35×35 Bigfoot puzzles, crosswords trounce Sakodu’s petty 9×9 grids. Aesthetically pleasing, the crossword contains radial symmetry, contrasting white and black squares in interesting designs. Suducu’s only claim to fame is that every puzzle is as boringly plain as the last.

What’s it going to be? The logic, beauty, and cruciverbial wonder of the crossword, or the irritatingly confining multiplication table that is Sydyky?

P.S. If anyone could help me with 26-Across — “Wish to a traveler,” eight letters? Yeah, thanks.

Crosswords and Sudoku are very similar, really.

Both combine the excitement of painstakingly filling out small grids in a strictly regimented way with the fun of sitting quietly. Both are presumed by many reliable sources as activities that build the intellect. And both are best enjoyed responsibly.

However, if one of the two had to be sacrificed from our nation’s coffee shops, subway trains, and lecture halls, the choice would be simple:

We would have to ditch the crossword.

Sudoku is, by its very nature, inclusive. Speaking the universal language of numbers, a Sudoku puzzle spreads its grid wide enough to encompass people from any culture, any walk of life.

Crosswords trend toward the opposite extreme of exclusion, taking on themes so obscure as to alienate the vast majority of those initially drawn to their checkerboard good-looks and witty tete-a-clue-tete. Glamour without warmth is not what I look for in a woman, and absolutely not what I want in a pastime.

Sudoku’s simple, yet elegant rules can be learned in minutes. Place each digit, 1-9, one time in each row, in each column, and in each 3-by-3 square.

Compare that to the nuances of a typical crossword puzzle. If there’s an abbreviation in the clue, does that mean the answer is abbreviated as well? In what tense do they want this word?

And what’s with all the Latin?

I’ll admit — Sudoku is a relatively new addition to the flashy world of the comic-page. But even considering the Jumble, word-search, and the behemoth that is the New York Times crossword, Sudoku remains one enigmatic David who can take up nine smooth digits and get the amusement done.

Which side are you on?
View Results

Next Page »