Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Fleeting Glimpse of Bobby Bowden

In case you haven't heard, Coach Bobby Bowden has a new book.

Of course, I don't know how you couldn't have heard - he's been all over the airwaves playing it up, and answering the inevitable (and oft-repeated) questions about the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from Florida State. Now it's fair to say that I've never been much of a Florida State fan, preferring instead to side with my home-state Virginia Tech Hokies, but Bowden to me has always been an entertaining guy. His interviews and press conferences have always been fun to watch, and over the years he's never seemed to lose touch with his Alabama roots (even with his connections to FSU and West Virginia).

Over the past few days, I've learned more about him than I have in previous years, and I like what I've learned. It's certainly been enough to tempt me to read more, and as such I'm looking forward to reading his new volume, Called to Coach. But the interviews and book tour also jogged memories of my brief brush with the coach four years ago - if you call being in the same stadium with him as a brush.

In 2006,I was in Florida for a relaxing weekend with several guys from my college days, and we had stopped at FSU to pick up one of our friends who still worked for the university. While waiting to depart, I was given a quick peek inside the football stadium - an impressive sight indeed. I was surprised to find that Bowden, his coaching staff and the team had just finished up a practice and were gathered in the center of the field. He was certainly easy to pick out - the famous hat being a great homing beacon - and because I had my camera with me I was able to snap several photos.

Coach, I know the Seminole nation will miss you and your presence on the field, but I hope you enjoy retirement and your time with the family. Your team cost the Hokies a national title a few years back, and that's a grudge that I know will hang over Blacksburg for a long time, but you were always a class act. College football will definitely not be the same this season.

These pictures are for you...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is Poverty? William Stringfellow Answers...

William Stringfellow - lawyer, activist, lecturer and Episcopal lay theologian - moved to an apartment on 100th Street in Harlem in 1956 and set about the work of representing the residents of that depressed area of New York City. As he documented in his autobiography, My People is the Enemy, he made this move out of a sense of Christian duty to those among his fellow man who were suffering most, despite the numerous other opportunities he could have pursued in private practice or as part of a large firm.

During his time in Harlem, he was exposed to the severe poverty in which his friends, neighbors and clients were living, and which many today often choose to ignore - whether by averting their eyes and thus not seeing, or by contributing money and calling it a day, rather than rolling up their sleeves and jumping right in. Forty-four years have passed, but the circumstances which Stringfellow witnessed first-hand are as present today as ever.

And what is poverty? I think Stringfellow's summary answers that question beautifully - not in terms of the imagery, but in his writing style. As you read, I want you to ponder the poverty in your own neighborhood, town or city, and reflect on what you have done lately to help. What you see here isn't confined just to Harlem, or Mobile, or Washington, D.C. - it's anyplace where we really take the time to look and see.

"Poverty is a widow on welfare whose landlord cuts the heat, knowing that the winter will end before a complaint is processed. Poverty is a drug addict who steals from his own family or pawns the jacket off his back to get another 'fix.' Poverty is being evicted from a housing project because the project manager determines that the family is 'undesirable.' Poverty is a Puerto Rican shopkeeper whose store is stoned when he tries to relocate south of the 96th Street boundary of East Harlem. Poverty is an adolescent with a tested I.Q. of 130 who cannot read or write the English language well enough to get other than the most menial jobs. Poverty is the pay-off to a building inspector not to report violations of the building code. Poverty is a young couple who marry because that is the only way to get out of the tenements and into a project, and whose marriage fails, and who have neither the grounds for a divorce in New York nor the price for a divorce in another jurisdiction. Poverty is being awakened in the middle of the night by a welfare investigator who demands to search your apartment to be sure you are not cheating the taxpayers. Poverty is the incapacity to complain against the landlord because you can't afford to take a day off from your job or from minding the family to go to court. Poverty is a kid who wants to be adopted to escape from the slums but whom no one wants. Poverty is a boy whose father has thrown him out, a boy who needs a place to stay. Poverty is living in darkness after the electric current has been turned off as a fire hazard, and waiting for six or seven days until someone is sent to repair the obsolete wiring.

"Poverty is the enormous burden of waiting - waiting for hours for a doctor to examine a sick child at the hospital clinic, waiting for an interview with a social worker, waiting at the employment office, waiting in line for what the government ironically calls 'surplus' food, wiating for everything, everywhere you go.

"Poverty is the vulnerability to death in its crudest forms. Poverty is the relentless daily attrition of contending with the most primitive concerns of human existence: food and cleanliness and clothes and heat and housing and rest and play and work."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Does the American Anglican Council Even Care About Fact?

And the misrepresentation continues.

In the July 30, 2010 newsletter penned by the Rev. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, the July 18 visit of Bishop Gene Robinson to Foundry United Methodist Church was summarized in this way: "Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire preached at Foundry United Methodist church in Washington, DC, and urged them to 'get in trouble' by conducting same-sex marriages to show 'God's limitless, boundless and unimaginable love.'"

Again, this is not what Gene said - what he said was, ""When I ordain deacons, I tell them that I expect them to get into some Gospel trouble. If they're not in trouble, I wonder if it is the Gospel that they are preaching." This misrepresentation of his remarks perpetuates the incorrect information floating around. I can only assume at this point that those in the AAC don't have any interest at all in knowing the facts; it seems that all that is important to them is what THEY think, and facts be damned...