Monday, March 31, 2008

Good and Bad News for the Commodores

Given Vanderbilt's historically embarrassing first-round loss in the NCAA tourney ten days ago, I still don't feel good talking about Vandy basketball. But whatever . . .

The good news: Shan Foster is a Second Team All American; he finished seventh overall in All American voting.

The bad news: Promising freshman point guard Keegan Bell is gone—transferring to no one knows where. Though Alex Gordon was a better shooter and defender, I always felt better when Bell was in the game. He seemed less likely to turn it over, and he was good at feeding Ogilvy in the post. Oh well. Maybe he'll transfer to Evansville to get more playing time. (An open letter to Keegan Bell is in order.)

Elsewhere in Vandyworld, the women's basketball team, fresh off of a Sweet Sixteen thrashing at the hands of Maryland, has everyone (sans Liz Sherwood) coming back. The baseball team is currently number 8 in Baseball America's Top 25.

Also the defending national champion women's bowling team is headed back to the NCAA championships.

Friday, March 28, 2008

God's Bracket Update

In the men's draw, Xavier gets a big win for the Jesuits. Tonight we'll see if Davidson and the Presbyterians can keep pace and whether Villanova can be the second Catholic school in the Elite Eight.

God's only remaining representatives in the women's bracket are Notre Dame and Duke, setting up a Catholic/United Methodist showdown. Overall the women's standings are as follows:

Roman Catholic: 2-3; 1 team remaining (Notre Dame)

United Methodist: 2-1; 1 team remaining (Duke)

Baptist: 1-3; 0 teams remaining

Charismatic: 0-1; 0 teams remaining

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Morning at the Tinley House

It's not the most exciting video we've ever made, but watch as Resha Kate talks about "Bob eggs" and reveals her name for her brother:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Nobility at NPR Music

Nashville's best band (sorry De Novo Dahl), The Nobility, last week was featured on NPR Music's Second Stage.

Actually, before you do anything else, drop by iTunes and purchase The Nobility's most recent opus, The Mezzanine.

Usual disclaimer: Back in Indiana, I played in a band with Nobility drummer Brian Fuzzell. You can buy some of our old albums by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

More on the Tennessee Conference Staffing Mess

Pastor-by-day-Mike-Wallace-by-night Jay Vorhees does a masterful job of deconstructing the Tennessee Conference's belated official statement on the recent elimination of two conference staff positions. If you have any interest in this issue, I highly recommend that you read Jay's post. But here's a summary:

The official statement confirms that the decision to eliminate these staff positions was a top-down, un-Methodist decision made in accordance with a loosely defined vision.

Here's another summary:

The bishop had a vision for the conference, apparently inspired by UMC megastar Adam Hamilton, and eliminated the staff persons best equipped to make that vision a reality.

Forgive me, I'm cynical. To Bishop Wills's credit, I've heard that he admits that this matter was handled poorly.

Gavin has more.

Monday, March 24, 2008

God's Bracket Update

After the first weekend in the men's draw, the Roman Catholics and Presbyterians have had the best showing. No other religious tradition has a team alive in the tourney. Here are the standings:

Roman Catholic: 10-9; 2 teams remaining (Xavier, Villanova)

Presbyterian: 2-0; 1 team remaining (Davidson)

United Methodist: 1-2; 0 teams remaining

Baptist: 0-2; 0 teams remaining

Latter-Day Saints: 0-1; 0 teams remaining

Charismatic: 0-1; 0 teams remaining

Friday, March 21, 2008

This Year, Good Friday Is Even Better

Working for the church, I have the fortune of not having to work on Good Friday. Though Good Friday should be the most somber day on the Christian calendar, I must confess that I've been looking forward to this Good Friday for some time. I can't remember a year when the first round of the NCAA tourney fell during Holy Week. Today, I have an entire day off to watch basketball games (though I suppose I should miss the second half of the 11:30 games and go to church).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get Ready for the Games Today . . .

. . . by reading Time's Top 10 NCAA Tournament First Round Upsets.

Predictive Typing

Whenever I type the word rabbi, I keep going and end up typing rabbit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Whom I'll Be Pulling for This Weekend and Why

First of all, with Mount St. Mary's's win over Coppin State in Tuesday night's opening round game, the Catholics are 1–0 in God's Bracket.

Now, allow me to explain my rooting interests in this year's NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. If any two teams on this list meet in the tournament, I will be pulling for the team that ranks highest. Of course, I'll root for any of these teams against a team not on the list. Here you go:

1. Vanderbilt
Because I hold a degree from the university's Divinity School.

2. Butler
Because my mother earned her master's degree at Butler, and because the school is in Indianapolis, where I was born and raised. Also, I like little schools that become perennial contenders.

3. Drake
Because Drake represents the Missouri Valley Conference, and I graduated from a Missouri Valley school (Evansville). Also, one of my cousins is a Drake grad who currently works for the university.

4. Indiana
Because my dad—along with my uncle and several of my friends—graduated from Indiana, and I was raised a loyal fan of the Hoosiers, attending several games at Assembly Hall in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Also, I have three credit hours from Indiana on my college transcript (from a class I took in high school). And my band played a party there once. Honestly, I have more connections to IU than either Butler or Drake, but I have to put the overachieving little guy ahead of the underachieving powerhouse.

5. Purdue
Because several friends and members of my extended family went to Purdue, and because my band played there a couple times. Actually, as an Indiana fan, I was raised to despise Purdue; but Matt Painter and his Baby Boilers have won me over.

6. American
Because they are the only United Methodist school in the tourney that isn't Duke.

7. Belmont
Because I enjoy hanging out at Bongo Java.

8. Memphis
Because Memphis is the team from a non-power conference with the best shot at winning it all. (Memphis gets bonus points for being in Tennessee.)

9. Tennessee
Because UT is the SEC team with the best chance of winning it all, and because I like Bruce Pearl.

10. Xavier
Because Xavier, like Memphis, is a non-power-conference school with a chance to go far, and because the Musketeers were a rival of my Evansville Aces back in the 1980s.

11. Georgia
Because my sister, even though she prefers Georgia Tech, earned her master's degree from UGA.

12. Austin Peay
Because I have to support the schools from Middle Tennessee.

13. South Alabama
Because I'm tired of pundits saying that the Jaguars don't deserve to be in this year's tourney.

14. Louisville
Because a friend of mine earned a Ph.D from Louisville, and because I pass the school whenever I drive from Nashville to Indianapolis.

15. Wisconsin
Because I grew up a fan of the Big Ten, and because I don't think Wisconsin gets enough respect for the great season they've had.

16. Mississippi State
Because I watched Jamont Gordon play in high school.

That should do.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jesus Is My Search Engine

This picture, from Valleywag, is of Hollywood (CA) United Methodist Church. Clever.

Because We Lived in Evansville at the Same Time

Do yourself a favor and read this article about Bruce Pearl and his years at the University of Southern Indiana in my one-time hometown of Evansville.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God's Bracket, Women's Edition

Yesterday I gave you the run-down of religiously affiliated schools in the men's NCAA tourney. Here's the list from the women's bracket. (God didn't fare as well in the women's game this year.)

Roman Catholic
5. Notre Dame
9. Xavier (Jesuit)
10. DePaul (Vincentian)
14. San Diego

3. Baylor
12. Liberty
16. Bucknell

United Methodist
3. Duke
12. Southern Methodist

16. Oral Roberts

Sunday, March 16, 2008

God's Bracket, Men's Edition

"God's Bracket" is my annual analysis of religiously affiliated schools in the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament. As usual Roman Catholic schools dominate the men's draw. My denomination, The United Methodist Church, this year has only two representatives. Here's a quick run-down:

Roman Catholic
2. Georgetown (Jesuit)
3. Xavier (Jesuit)
5. Notre Dame
6. Marquette (Jesuit)
7. Gonzaga (Jesuit)
10. St. Mary's
11. St. Joseph's (Jesuit)
12. Villanova (Augustinian)
13. San Diego
13. Siena (Franciscan)
16. Mount St. Mary's

United Methodist
2. Duke
15. American

11. Baylor
15. Belmont

Latter-Day Saints
8. Brigham Young

10. Davidson

13. Oral Roberts

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Preview of the Terrible Twos

I see this face a lot these days.

I'm Not Sure What's Going on With My Annual Conference, But It's Not Good

The Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church, my annual conference, recently made the curious decision to eliminate two conference level programming positions: those related to youth and children—those held by Beth Morris and Susan Groseclose. On the surface, this move gives one the impression that our always aging denomination isn't terribly concerned about cultivating young disciples. (While I think that lamenting the "graying" of the church is offensive to older adults, the UMC nonetheless needs to come to grips with its struggles to engage younger generations.) The bishop and conference office exacerbated this impression through poor communication. None of the youth or adult advisers on the Conference Council on Youth Ministry were informed of or consulted about the move. To my knowledge, the conference still has not issued a formal statement on the matter. (Gavin has more here and here and here.)

Jay Vorhees, a reporter trapped in a pastor's body, has been on top of the story and spoke with Bishop Wills soon after he learned the news. From Jay:

[Bishop Wills] believes . . . . that we need to be doing more in regards to youth ministry than propping up existing structures; that we need to be more proactive in our evangelism to youth; and that staff persons will have to be willing to be present in local congregations on a regular basis to train and facilitate these changes. This vision was supposedly shared with the staff members and they were given the opportunity (at least to his knowledge) to restructure their ministries in new ways that fell in line with this vision. According to the Bishop, they chose to focus on their traditional duties and seemed unwilling to embrace this new vision.

Later, the bishop would clarify that "Beth was not told about this new direction and organization." That's a problem.

Maybe I'm missing something, but shouldn't the conference youth staff and council on youth ministry be involved in discerning, crafting, and implementing a new vision for youth ministry? United Methodists are supposed to make decisions through a process of "holy conferencing"; unilateral, top-down decisions are un-Methodist.

Forgive me if I've misspoken or misunderstood what is going on. By all accounts Bishop Wills is a good guy and a great bishop, and I think the vision he articulated has merit. But Beth Morris has served young people in the Tennessee Conference well for a long time and has represented the conference well on a national level. In my opinion, she (as well as youth ministers and young people in local congregations) should have been a partner in re-visioning youth ministry in our annual conference.

Real-Life Transformer


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Not Sure Why This Family Guy Clip Is So Funny

. . . but it is.

In related news, Meyer gets excited if he sees so much as a commercial for Family Guy, which he calls "Football-Headed Baby." Resha Kate is equally captivated by Family Guy. I suppose that speaks to my failings as a parent.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ring Around a Moon?

From the AP:

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — New observations by a spacecraft suggest Saturn's second-largest moon may be surrounded by rings.

If confirmed, it would the first time a ring system has been found around a moon.

The international Cassini spacecraft detected what appeared to be a large debris disk around the 950-mile-wide moon Rhea during a flyby in 2005. Scientists proposed that the halo likely contained particles ranging from the size of grains to boulders.

The finding was described in a study published in the March 7 issue of the journal Science.

I'm not sure why I find this so exciting. For what it's worth the Rings of Rhea already have their own Wikipedia entry.

DC5's Induction Is Long Overdue

Tonight the most underrated British Invasion band finally entered the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The Dave Clark Five has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for two decades but is just now getting its due. The band's induction is bittersweet because of the recent death of singer/keyboardist Mike Smith.

I'd like to pay tribute to the DC5 without mentioning the Beatles, but to rock fans in 1964 the two bands were very similar, sometimes hard to tell apart. While the Dave Clark Five had no shortage of mid-sixties pop hits, they never reached the artistic heights of Abbey Road or the White Album. Nonetheless, their place in the Hall of Fame is well deserved. Oldies radio would have been incomplete without snappy tunes like "Catch Us If You Can," "Glad All Over," and "Bits and Pieces." And future generations need to appreciate the way Dave Clark beat the snot out of his snare drum.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Good News for People Who Love Ties

If I had my way, a tie would be an acceptable outcome for any sporting contest that isn't part of a tournament dependent on one team or player advancing. No overtime. No shoot-outs. No extra innings. If, at the end of regulation, neither team or player has performed demonstrably better than his/her/its opponent, neither team or player deserves to have won or lost.

This weekend, the Michigan High School Athletic Association did me one better. They declared a tie in the state championship hockey game:

After eight overtimes in the Division 1 state championship hockey game Saturday, players from both Marquette and Orchard Lake St. Mary's huddled together, posed for pictures and lifted the state championship trophy.

The score was 1-1 after 109 minutes of play, and the Michigan High School Athletic Association declared co-champions.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Governor of Alaska Is Pregnant

Does anyone else think this is awesome?

Alaska governor Sarah Palin has announced that she is pregnant with her fifth child.

Palin announced Wednesday she is around seven months pregnant and is due to deliver in mid-May.

I don't envy her trying to govern a state and care for an infant at the same time. Still, this is pretty cool. Has a sitting governor ever given birth before?

Welcome Back to Scrambies

I'll try to resume regular blogging next week.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"The UMC's Other Half"

Read my UM Reporter article, "The UMC's other half: Former Evangelical United Brethren say they feared ‘being swallowed up’ " at the UM Portal.

Pictures From Meyer's Birthday Party

SNL Whines About Officiating

Both of the post-writers-strike Saturday Night Live shows have opened with a parody of one of the Democratic presidential debates. The two opening sketches were nearly identical: Both strongly suggested that Hillary Clinton has been the victim of a media that is in love with Barack Obama. Unlike past SNL debate sketches, which have poked fun at each candidate's quirks and policy positions, these sketches have had one joke and one joke only. Additionally, during Weekend Update last week, Tina Fey stumped for Clinton, implying that sexism was responsible for Obama's success; this week Clinton herself made an appearance. In short, SNL backs Clinton, isn't happy that she's probably about to lose the nomination, and is looking for someone to blame.

I don't expect comedy writers to entirely conceal their biases, but I've never known SNL to so blatantly favor one candidate. And while Clinton may have been the victim of media bias, SNL has exaggerated this bias far beyond what can be considered comedic hyperbole. Blaming the media for the struggles of the Clinton campaign seems immature, not unlike those Patriots fans who circulated a petition asking the NFL to review the final two minutes of the Super Bowl.

I still like SNL; I'll just like it better when this primary season has passed.