From the moment the Wells Report was released, social media lit up – once again – over the scandal of under-inflated footballs appearing to be a common practice for New England Patriots football games. Call it Deflate-gate if you like. Detractors and Patriots slam the report, others are demanding Tom Brady’s head … or at least a season-long suspension.The story/scandal has provided fodder for a slew of coarse jokes and innuendo. Given three months for sifting through information that resulted in a 139-page report – which generally blames lower-level employees while stating the quarterback Brady was “generally aware of inappropriate activities.” Frankly, when I read a few of the text messages released online, it seemed more than likely to me that deflating footballs was standard operating practice and after the press ran with the story, obfuscation and cover-up followed. Continue Reading →
Saying goodbye … it’s an inevitable part of life. When one says goodbye to fictional characters, it shouldn’t be a wrenching loss – unless the characters are so well-drawn and true to life, they’ve become embedded in your life. This kind of goodbye doesn’t just represent a closed book of characters but also the way in which these characters have colored one’s point of view.The FX Network show Justified aired its finale last night following a six-season run. Truthfully, I hated to have the show end, but its final episode hit every note with perfect pitch and stunning narrative grace notes. Without giving away any spoilers, I can’t imagine any show ending with better symmetry and poetic precision. Continue Reading →
Job didn’t gloss over things. As Chapter 23 in The Book of Job opens, Job readily admits: “I am still complaining today. I groan because God is still making me suffer.” Instead of addressing the observations made by Eliphaz in the previous chapter, Job simply states the facts: I’m complaining, I’m groaning, all this suffering is causing me to act like a grumpy old man.
Complainers don’t win a lot of fans. When friend go through hard times, we want to give them leeway, permit some grousing, just enough to communicate our willingness to sympathize with their situations. But for the friend who builds a reputation as a perpetual complainer, we’re not quite as sympathetic or patient. More often than not, we’re repelled. We have nicknames for them: Debbie Downer … Negative Nancy … wet blanket … buzzkill. Continue Reading →
Utility knife. Utility tool-belt. Utility blanket. Utility bill. One of the foundational pillars of our culture is a focus on utility … on usefulness. We’re geared toward doing, making progress, accomplishing things. Take a look at the More Saving / More Doing folks of Home Depot commercials, some that employ the hashtag #LetsDoThis. They’ve captured the essence of our age. They understand we want the knowledge, the skills, the tools – sometimes even multi-purpose tools – to help us complete one task before moving onto the next.
There’s a downside to this focus on usefulness though. If an object isn’t perceived as useful, we’re trained to think of it as worthless. On an even more disturbing level, aging individuals are sometimes viewed as useless. Retirees may feel useless because they’re no longer doing the things they once did. They feel unproductive. Continue Reading →
For someone in our world today, the depth of Job’s desperation is difficult to fathom. Oh, one might be able to name people (friends, acquaintances or relatives) who have endured terrible suffering. But in our day, we have doctors and medications fairly close at hand. There are resources from which to make a possible diagnosis. No such things for Job. He has three friends, comforters, counselors, but their ministrations can hardly be considered palliative!
In Chapter 21 of The Book of Job, we find Job once again responding to the bandaid-assurances of Zophar. Oh, Job, if only you’d get your life straight, confess your sins, God would forgive you and everything would be okay again. We could all go back to life as normal!
In last week’s post about The Book of Job (chapter 19), I mentioned how Job claimed he’d been falsely accused. He expressed disappointment with his friends for their unfairness toward him. In the final verses of the chapter, he also warns them not to condemn him suggesting they may be caught one day in the same situation. His frustration and perceived unfriendliness isn’t going to bring out the best in his friends. Hurt feelings are increasing.
This week’s post won’t be an improvement from the last chapter’s angst, because Job’s friend, Zophar, isn’t likely to turn the other cheek. He’s aggravated now, upset by Job’s warning at the end of Job 19. The narrative in chapter 20 reflects this is no longer hey-I’m-your-friend, how-can-I-help. The discussion has turned into we-knew-all-along-you-were-wicked, now-we’re-going-to-tell-you-what-we-really-think!
Zophar unloads! How dare Job accuse his friends of using pretext as the basis for accusation! What they perceive as Job’s holier-than-thou attitude is what has gotten him into this hot water with the Almighty, doncha’ know!
Wrongfully accused … even for young children, this is an easily-understood expression. The concept of fairness seems inborn and children learn at an early age the power of a complaint “It’s not fair!” Job wasn’t a child, but he understood how it felt to be wrongfully accused.
In studying The Book of Job, I’ve begun to understand how awful it is to be perceived as a wrongdoer … when you’re not! Every time Job proclaimed his innocence, his friends shook their heads and presumed Job was guilty and deserving of judgment. The “circumstantial evidence” confirmed their hasty judgment. Case closed! Continue Reading →
One of my friends has a loved one who suffers from chronic, unrelenting pain, a physical issue that rarely ebbs and can’t be controlled by medications (since the guy chooses to remain aware of and active in the world around him). The man has a family and wants to hold onto his job, even though working sometimes pushes the limit of his capabilities. When his pain – on the scale of 1 to 10 – reaches 11, relief won’t come with pat answers or “I feel your pain” catchphrases. Impossible as it is to adequately understand someone else’s pain, we’ve all had occasions where our own pain has seemed momentarily unendurable. A woman in labor for thirty hours knows the pain and exhaustion that are usually relieved upon delivery. But even a minuscule splinter can cause terrible and unremitting pain which one might consider unendurable … until the splinter is removed. (I suppose in that sense we must conclude pain is relative.) Continue Reading →
For a writer, reading the following words may strike right between the eyes: “How long will you hunt for words?” Maybe it was more of a two-by-four upside the head, but I definitely reacted to this question from Job 18:2. It’s Bildad speaking, responding to Job’s monologue from chapters 16 and 17, and Bildad comes out swinging. He’s anxious for Job to suspend what he considers a monumental (and verbose) pity-party.
The way I read the chapter, it reminds me of the scene from Moonstruck where Cher slaps Nicholas Cage and tells him “Snap out of it!” Bildad’s attempting to do the same thing: Snap out of it, Job! You’re letting this suffering thing affect your ability to listen and learn from your friends!
Continue Reading →
The recent conversation between Oprah and Rob Bell, featured in a video entitled Super Soul Sunday, has created lots of buzz over the last couple days. Perhaps the most striking comments emerging from this conversation – and the portion garnering the most attention – is Bell’s assertion that the church (one would presume in context Bell is referring to evangelicals) is “moments away” from acknowledging and accepting gay marriage.Bell explains, “… culture is already there” but then he adds: “… the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.” Because LOVE. Continue Reading →