Monthly Archives: March 2005

Terry Schiavo’s Last Days

On the various issues surrounding this case, I’m not well-informed. It’s not something I’ve studied through. I’m still not sure what I believe about eternal security or any number of other issues. Issues involving euthanasia, mercy killing, etc., haven’t ever gotten enough attention from me to have formed convictions that I’m willing to stand behind.

But that doesn’t mean my emotions don’t get pulled. Strongly.

After music practice Thursday night, several of us stayed around talking for quite a while about various things. As a result, on the way home, I realized I was very thirsty. My mouth was dry. And my mind immediately went to Terry Schiavo. I’ve heard that her brain isn’t “connected” well enough to actually feel pain or discomfort, though I suspect there are “experts” who hold varying opinions on that. Regardless, I thought about what it’s like to be terribly thirsty–going days without water. And I wondered about things.

Early on, I remember hearing some reports telling us exactly what was happening with Terry’s physical condition at that moment–how the lack of water and nourishment was affecting here. How her body, her condition, was deteriorating. I haven’t heard such reports in a while, so I assume her husband has cut off access to such knowledge. But we need to know that stuff. We as a society. If we’re going to kill someone in the electric chair, it’s incumbent on us to know exactly what happens–how much pain is felt and where it is felt, what that first jolt of electricity is like, when death occurs, the mental state of the inmate, and everything else. Likewise, if we, as a society, are going to let a helpless person starve to death, just whither away, we should know what exactly–exactly–is happening. I want to know. Whether I think she should be allowed to die, or not, I want to know what is happening to her. If we’re going to allow this, let’s understand precisely what we are allowing.

Courts have wrestled hard with the question, “Is this what Terry wanted?” They’ve decided that it seems she would approve. If that is true, is it still okay to just let her starve to death? That’s where I’m uncertain. I think I’m okay with it. But I have nothing near the defintion of a conviction. I’m just watching, and doing a lot of wondering.

I was also touched by a post on Ed Gebert’s blog, in which he talked about a classmate who had been in a coma for 20 years, and finally died. It added insight to my admitted lack of insight. I recommend that you read it.

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Standing Behind Principle

I find it admirable when people are willing to stand behind their convictions. It’s not necessary that I agree with those convictions. I might even think those convictions are stupid. But I do admire the principled fortitude which says, “This is what I believe, and I’m going to act accordingly.”

Our denomination has had a continuing debate about alcohol. We are currently a total abstention church–if you have even one sip of wine at a family gathering, you can’t be a United Brethren member. I don’t agree with that stand–it goes well beyond what the Bible requires. But there are people who do believe strongly in that stand, and both their words and their actions undergird it. If we change the stand, the true believers will leave. I can respect that.

My alma mater, Huntington College, has been engaged in a debate for the past several years over a professor who is a leading proponent of a controversial doctrine called Open Theism. The faculty strongly supports him. I hear of threats, by some, to leave if this professor is forced out. They believe so strongly in academic freedom and other issues surrounding this controversy, that they couldn’t in good conscience stay at Huntington College if this professor is axed. Well, the Board of Trustees took action to release this professor. Will those faculty members follow through? I will respect those who do, indeed, leave. They are standing behind their words and convictions. I admire that. For others–well, I guess it wasn’t such a big deal, after all. Just words.

Our denomination is looking at doing away with the regional conference structure we have used since 1810 (when we first had multiple conferences). This is a big deal. And I’ve discovered a huge disconnect between what some people have said, and how they are now acting.

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NCAA Bracket Busting

I correctly guessed 24 of the first 32 games in the NCAA basketball tournament. That’s not bad. The whole left side looks pretty good. But the right side is in shambles, thanks to Kansas. I picked Kansas to end up in the finals, against Illinois. I’m not sure why. I just kept filling out the brackets, and Kansas kept surviving, and then there they were, in the final. Meanwhile, I turned traitor on my favorite team, Arizona, letting them get bumped off in the Sweet 16. My other favorite team, UCLA, I picked to get beat in the first round, and they did. Where is my loyalty? My faith?

But Kansas–that really blew things for my bracket. Who in the world is Bucknell? I don’t even know where Bucknell is located. Since the mascot is the Bisons, I’m going to take a wild guess and say Bucknell isn’t located in Massachusetts.

Well: Go Illinois. I write that totally devoid of passion. I couldn’t care less about Illinois. Nor anyone else in the Big Ten, for that matter. I skew toward the western teams. So I’ll be cheering, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, for: Washington (no enthusiasm), Utah (moderate–a classmate of mine, Greg Deane, played at Utah, then played a couple years for the Utah Jazz), and of course Arizona (high enthusiasm). And New Mexico. Almost forgot about them.

And how can I not root for the Cinderella team, Vermont, which knocked off Syracuse?

Another good tournament. Always a highlight of the year. Someday my bracket will work out.

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The Civility of Ping Pongsters

I continue playing ping pong regularly. Mostly, I’m going to the club on the east side of town, which meets on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons. It has a lot of good players, as opposed to only a couple players coming to the one on the west side of town (my side). Last night, I played 8 or 9 matches during the three-hour period. I beat the guys I should have beat, and lost to the ones who were better than me, though I put up a pretty good fight and won a couple games off of guys who had previously beaten me 3-0 (we play best of 5 games, with 11-point games).

About 25 guys were there last night, and I’ve played probably 40 different guys during the past two months. Two guys, both named Tom, are clearly better than everyone else. They are the upper tier. Then there is a tier of about 8 guys who are very good, and fairly well matched. I was surprised last night when, in separate conversations, two different guys put me in that group. I’m definitely on the bottom end of it looking up, but it was flattering.

This is just about the nicest bunch of guys I’ve ever been around. It’s not a church thing–just a secular, city club that happens to meet at a church. But I’ve never been around a more gracious, nice, friendly, courteous bunch of guys. Not a single person there acts stuck-up, gets upset about losing, or otherwise displays a bad attitude. Like a bunch of Mormons or something.

By comparison, I think of the church softball, basketball, and volleyball leagues I’ve played in. My goodness, if you want to find unsportsmanlike jerks, go play in a church league. Why is that? And why are pastor-athletes sometimes the worst of the bunch? Would the character of the ping-pong club plummet if a preacher showed up to play? Hmmmm.

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Christian Moshing

We had one of our Christian hardcore music concerts Friday night. I didn’t go to this one, but I talked to Tony about it this morning. He heads up these concerts. It went well, he told me, except for the guy who tried to start a fight.

Our “concert hall” is just the basement fellowship hall with everything pushed to the sides. Everyone stands throughout the concert, and they are close enough to touch the band members. And they often do. Musicians and audience are standing, basically, face to face. Except when they’re moshing. That usually happens right up front. The crowd pushes back, and in the space between them and the band, the kids bang into each other and do little (for want of a better term, something that wouldn’t horrify them) “jigs,” creative little dance thingies that I enjoy watching. Please excuse the technical jargon.

At secular hardcore concerts, people who venture into the mosh pit sometimes leave battered and bruised. That’s not quite the case at our concerts. Yes, they bang into each other. Yes, arms and legs flail around without a lot of attention to whose nose might be in the path. But I’ve never seen anyone get hurt. More often, if something borders on rough, the offending person will say, “I’m sorry, are you okay? I didn’t mean to hit you.” It’s Christian hardcore, after all.

But on Friday, some kid didn’t quite understand that. So as he was innocently watching the music or talking to something–at any rate, not paying attention to the moshing–someone banged into him, and he got mad. He grabbed the offending mosher in a headlock, and was headed in a not-so-nice direction. But other kids immediatley stepped in, stopped it, and basically kicked the kid out. He wanted to fight, and they wouldn’t allow it. They sent him on his way. We didn’t need an adult there to police things. And though we have an off-duty policeman on hand, he’s usually not in the concert area. Instead, the concert-goers took ownership, and wouldn’t allow something bad to happen. Self-policing.

That encourages me. From what I hear, we’re the only venue in Fort Wayne which allows Christian hardcore concerts. The kids appreciate that and don’t want to jeapordize it. They have a sense of owernship, these kids with the tattoos and multitudinous piercings and all-black attire. And that gives me a good feeling.

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When You Love What You’re Doing

It’s been nearly two weeks since I posted anything. I’ve been conscious of that, but I’ve had other things on my mind. Actually, one thing: redesigning the United Brethren website.

I’ve been tinkering around with new designs for several months. I finally found something I liked during February, and worked on refining it. Once I committed to the design and was ready to implement new templates and stylesheets and a new structure, I had to totally immerse myself in the task of converting hundreds of pages over to the new design.

So for three weeks, that’s about all I’ve been doing. During the past two weeks in particular, I’ve been totally engulfed in this. And the thing is: it’s FUN. This week I’ve been coming in around 6 am and leaving around 8 pm, and then feeling anxious to get back to it the next morning. There’s something about a huge creative project that gives me an adrenaline rush. (The fact that Pam is deep into tax season, working similarly long hours, gives me license to work late.)

Yesterday, I went live with the new site, and a few minutes ago, I sent an email to our constituency telling them about the new site. I just know I’m going to hear back about miscellaneous broken links and other problems, despite my best efforts to track down everything. I continue to stumble across such errors. But that’s okay. Other people can help me get it right.

I appreciate the fact that many people work at jobs that are a drudgery to them. I’m fortunate to have something that gives me the chance to tackle huge creative projects that are not only immensely rewarding when done, but are immensely fun in the process. Designing Filemaker databases is that way. Designing slides in Photoshop. Writing books. That’s what I’ll be doing most of next week, taking four days (actually, compensatory time) to work on my novel. I’ll be fully engrossed in that, though it’s a whole different kind of creative project. It’ll be immensely fun.

Yeah, I don’t have a lot to complain about.

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