Archive for February, 2010

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Back From Boston

February 22, 2010

So I went to Boston this last weekend. Got back last night at 2 am, so ya… kind of tired. Had a great time with my friend Joel, who was my roommate my freshmen year of college. It was great to see him again after a couple years.

I flew Virgin America for the first time. I’m loyal to Alaska Airlines, but if I ever need to fly to the east coast again, I’ll probably go with Virgin again. They have more direct flights, which is incredibly important to me, and they have an amazing in flight entertainment system with on demand movies and television programs, and Live Satellite TV. I watched the US play Canada in Olympic Hockey. The whole plane erupted in applause at each goal the US scored. It definitely made the flight go by quickly. I listened to this song by Mogwai about 20 times:

But, unfortunately, I’m a bit behind now. I have a huge week next week which includes a two hour presentation and about 4 midterms. The good news is that when its over I get to come home for a little over a week!

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A Great Commercial

February 16, 2010

I tear up almost every time I see this, especially when it shows the special olympians. I’ve actually bought a few cokes just because of this brilliant 30 seconds of video.

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Another Great Vocation Story

February 16, 2010

Very similar to the Grant Desme story. A young athlete, with promising talent, who had already impressed at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Her best years of Speed Skating were in front of her.

Where is Kirstin Holum now?

In a convent with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal:

There is no television and no internet at St. Joseph’s Convent in Leeds, England, meaning Holum won’t get to watch the Winter Olympics where she was supposed to become a star.

The peaceful surrounds of the convent is where Holum, now known as Sister Catherine, devotes her life to religious service as a Franciscan nun. That calling had begun on a trip to Our Lady of Fatima, a holy site in Portugal famed for a series of religious visions that appeared nearly a century ago. It was outside the Fatima basilica where Holum decided that a path of religious dedication, not frozen skating lanes, would be her destiny.

“It is funny now to think of how different my life is now,” she said. “I had the wonderful privilege of being able to compete as an Olympian, and now I am blessed to able to serve God and help those less fortunate.”

I was so happy to come across this inspirational story. Thanks to AmP for the tip, and do be sure to read the rest.

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Olympics!

February 11, 2010

I have Olympics Fever right now! I’ve always enjoyed the Summer Olympics, but this year I’m excited for these ones. I think the biggest reason I’m so excited this year as opposed to previous years is that most of the events will be going on about an hour from my hometown, just a little south of the US-Canada border.

I’ve always loved the city of Vancouver, and I’m happy that the rest of the World will finally get to see it. I’ve had the privilege of taking a few people up there and they are always shocked at how big and beautiful the city’s skyline is. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Whistler, the Alpine and Nordic skiing venues, on TV, since I’ve traveled there many times and have very happy memories from my college days. As for snow, Whistler should be just fine, but as you might know, Cypress (location of snowboarding, moguls, and aerials) might have some issues as they have been trucking in snow from other parts of the mountain.

If you use Twitter, there are many athletes tweeting their experiences and sharing photos of the various venues and experiences they are having in the City.

I only wish that I was back home so I could take in a few events myself.

Go USA!

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Parishmetrics

February 10, 2010

Warning: This is long. It will seem irrelevant at first, but it gets interesting (I hope) below the fold.

EDIT:Val read it and she said it was definitely not interesting. Read at your own risk, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I love baseball. I always have and I always will. More specifically, I love the Seattle Mariners which is one of the least successful franchises in all of sports. The Mariners haven’t just been bad. Their badness has set records. Just two seasons ago, they set a record when they became the first team to ever lose 100 games and spend 100 million dollars on payroll. It was during this season where I took my love for baseball to new levels.

I desperately want to see the Mariners win a world series in my lifetime. Two years ago, it was apparent that the people running my favorite team were doing something very wrong. Thanks to a lucky google search I discovered a couple of blogs run by fans who wanted what I wanted. Only these guys were way ahead of me. They were evaluating the mariners in ways I had never considered, based on a system of statistical analysis called “Sabermetrics.”

The original Sabermetricians began by challenging conventional wisdom. They looked at the statistics that were used to evaluate players and asked, “Is there a better way we can do this?” There was a better way. Consider Earned Run Average (ERA). This statistic had been used for many years to evaluate pitchers. It is the average number of runs that a pitcher gives up in 9 innings. A good ERA was seen as 3, and a bad ERA was around 4.5 and above.

But there was a problem with ERA, and the sabermetricians were all over it. They noticed that there were other variables that determined a pitcher’s ERA that weren’t being considered, primarily defense. They made the obvious observation that if a pitcher had a better defense behind him his ERA would be much better. So they developed a series of statistics known as Defense Independent Pitching Statistics (DIPS). This series of statistics only factored in data that the Defense had nothing to do with; Home Runs, Walks, Strike outs, and hit batsmen (the statistics varied based on which weight they gave to each piece of data). I learned that the Mariners were spending millions on pitchers who had great ERAs, but very poor DIPS. Other teams who had begun to apply these statistics were spending much less on players with bad ERAs and good DIPS and getting much better results (they were winning more games).

ERA was only the tip of the iceberg, though. Conventional wisdom of every aspect of the game was under scrutiny. The more I read about these statistics, the more I became interested in how this knowledge could be applied to other things. Naturally, I wondered how it could be applied to the Church. I asked many questions. Can we judge whether or not a parish is successful? Which indicators have we been using to judge this? Are these good? Are there better indicators?

I have thought about these questions an awful lot, and I think I’ve gone as far as I can for now. The rest of this post is only my thoughts. I am not saying that this is what I’m going to do if, God willing, I am ordained and placed in a parish. I am not saying my thoughts are correct, either. At this point I consider them experimental. Theories might be a better word. So you shouldn’t see them as anything else. I’m merely floating them out there to see if anyone finds it interesting and to see if anyone has anything else to offer. Ideally, a Catholic sabermetrician will come along and help out. That probably won’t happen, though, but if you’re interested, click below the fold to read on…
Read the rest of this entry ?

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How Catholic of You, Mars Hill

February 9, 2010

I am extremely intrigued by Mars Hill Church in Seattle. No, that statement definitely did not capture what I feel towards Mars Hill Church. Its way more complicated and confusing than that. I love Mars Hill Church. I can’t stand Mars Hill Church. I’m jealous of the resources Mars Hill Church has. Mars Hill Church has it figured out. Mars Hill Church just doesn’t get it.

Confused? So am I. Let me try to explain.

If you’ve never heard of Mars Hill Church, check out their website. Yes, that is an impressive website for a Church. Very, very slick and probably very expensive to maintain. I first heard about the Church from my friend Mike. Mike was a very good friend of mine during my freshmen year at WWU. Mike and I attended The INN, a non-denominational church service designed for college students. On days when he wasn’t playing the drums, we’d sit up in the balcony to take in the experience and we’d walk home talking about faith and other deep subjects. It was something I looked forward to each week, and I was sad Mike wound up transferring away from Western.

Fortunately for me, I reconnected with Mike after we both graduated. After moving back to the Seattle area Mike began attending Mars Hill and he told me the type of sermons he heard. They were challenging and touched on controversial and extremely relevant social topics. I had instant respect for what was going on, even though I had never heard of the place. It wasn’t until a few years later that I saw their pastor, Mark Driscoll, being interviewed on CNN (or one of those channels) that I decided to really look at what was going on, mainly through their website.

Mars Hill gets it. They understand the power of the Gospel and how much its needed in a city like Seattle. They understand how hurt people can be by buying into this culture’s lies, so the pastor Mark talks about these in a caring yet challenging manor. The people know their “Preaching Pastor” loves them, and their “Preaching Pastor” understands his role in helping them encounter the Risen Lord. He also understands the need for unity of belief among Christians. Mars Hill has grown to 10 locations, including one as far away as Albuquerque NM. On most Sundays, they use Satellite and Internet technology to broadcast the sermon to each location. They obviously want to expand their Church, and I don’t think its out of the realm of possibility that they will one day be in every state, if not every country.

And they just don’t get it! They don’t get how Catholic they are trying to be, and they don’t know how Catholic they will never be.

The reason they are trying to be Catholic, which means “universal,” is that they interpret the bible correctly. They believe that God offers salvation to all people, and that this can only happen through Jesus Christ. Jesus prays that all His believers may be one (John 17:20-21). Mars Hill Church believes this. The Catholic Church believes it too. One in mind, one in faith, one in deed. But the Catholic Church has attained this long before internet and satellite technology. One way is through the lectionary, which is the cycle of readings that we hear every day at Mass. The Catholic Church has recognized the right of every Christian to hear the word of God and established the universal lectionary so that the entire Church might hear the word – not just words that the pastor is comfortable preaching. For centuries, unity of mind, faith and deed have been promoted through gathering the Church leaders (which the early Church and modern Catholic Church called bishops) at Councils, which find their scriptural precedent in Acts 15. These councils continued with Nicea and Constantinople which formulated the creeds which have been recited as a symbol of unity across generations. Still, these councils continued through the ages with the councils of Chalcedon, Lateran, Trent, and Vatican to name a few. Furthermore, when a pressing need arises, the Pope has made use of encyclicals to speak on issues of politics, economics, human rights, theology and faith, and a host of moral issues.

Can Mars Hill achieve this type of unity? Of course. Who knows? it might! But Jesus designed His Church to attain a unity that goes beyond even belief and charitable/moral actions. Jesus established the Eucharist. In this celebration, Christians enter into the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus. It is not a repeat of the sacrifice. It is the same sacrifice that is re-presented in a non bloody way. When I am at Mass, I -and all Catholics around the world- are made present to that single event in history. Past and future are made present. Every Christian who partakes in this mystery who has ever lived is united with God and each other because the Eucharist is really the substantial presence of Jesus Christ, who is physically in heaven right now. It doesn’t get anymore universal than that. A relationship with Jesus does not get more personal than that.

That is why Mars Hill can never be what the Catholic Church is at this very moment. I long for the day when we will be united under our Risen Lord.

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More Death Cab

February 4, 2010

The song is “Stability.” Its long, but good. Slow, maybe a bit repetitive and somewhat hypnotic. I can’t get enough of it. I’m listening to it as I write a paper on “Priests as Fathers.”