The Royals and the other playoff teams

After a thrilling 12-inning game that went back and forth all night, the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics to win the American League wild-card slot.  That’s the first time the Royals made it to the playoffs in 29 years.  They were the first team that inspired me to start following baseball seriously–back in the George Brett, Freddie Patek, Dan Quisenberry, Willie Wilson era–when I was in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  So I’m glad.  It’s hard to imagine them going very far, but I hope they do.

Anyway, the playoff lineups are now set, and the games have begun.  After the jump, the first-round matchups and how I come down on the games. [Read more...]

The abortion talk

My daughter has published a brilliant article in the Federalist!  I am so proud.  From Mary Moerbe, NPR Forced Me To Have The Talk With My Six-Year-Old:

It crept up on me, but it was suddenly time to have the talk. I switched off the radio as I was driving my oldest daughter to a lesson, and slowly let out my breath. Obviously, my daughter was feeling things she had never felt before, and a quick glance was enough to tell me that now was a time she needed me to talk. She asked, “Mommy, what were they talking about, ending pregnancies?” [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]

America at 238–what’s to love?

The United States of America is 238 years old today.  And, arguably, feeling its age.  The country is polarized, but nearly every faction (though for different reasons) distrusts the government.  Nearly every faction also (for different reasons) criticizes the culture.  The patriotic legends of our history have been replaced with shame about slavery and how white people treated the Indians.  The rest of the world seems to have little respect for us anymore.  Our intellectual and artistic contributions are dragging.  The one bright spot is technology, but we use it mostly for trivial reasons, and it comes at the cost of hacking, identity theft, and privacy violations.  Most people would agree that America is very messed up right now.  America is in the doldrums.   And yet. . . .

Chesterton said something to the effect that we love our country in the same way that we love the members of our family.  In spite of their faults, which we know all too well.  In fact, a family member’s faults and problems properly bring out more love, since we want so badly to help.

So as a Fourth of July exercise, bring up things that you still love about this country.   I’m not looking here for “how great we are” statements.  Greatness is not necessarily a reason to love something.  What are some characteristic things about America that, despite everything, make you love your country?   I’ll go first, after the jump. [Read more...]

On the NBA championship

For the first time, I actually followed the NBA this season.  That was due to my Oklahoma nationalism–that being where I grew up–and getting hooked on the Oklahoma City Thunder, with MVP Kevin Durant and company.

I had always thought the playoffs, which involve a best-of-seven series on every level with days between games, lasted forever.  But now that I had a horse in this race, I found myself drawn in, as the Thunder advanced two levels–each filled with drama, soap-opera intrigue, and thrilling games–until they were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs.  That team just won the championship by decisively beating Lebron James and his superstar team the Miami Heat.  Watching the Thunder play the Spurs for so many games made me appreciate them, and I’m glad they won. [Read more...]

The imagination as the forgotten power of the mind

When we think of the mind, we tend to think of the intellect, our ability to reason and understand.  But the mind has many other facets:  We experience our emotions in our minds.  Another mental faculty is the will.  There has been quite a lot of theological reflection on those three, but not so much on the mental faculty that we use far more than any of the others:  the imagination.   When we do think of the imagination, we mystify it by associating it with creativity and the arts.  Those do issue from the imagination, but what the term really means is simply the ability to form mental pictures in our minds.

Anyway, I’ve just finished a book on the subject with Matthew Ristuccia, which will come out in November.  I spoke about this in Canada, recently, at Concordia Edmonton.  Mathew Block, communications director of the Lutheran Church Canada, interviewed me for the Canadian Lutheran.  I thought I’d run a series of posts built around his questions, starting today. [Read more...]


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