Monday, March 29, 2010

Proud to be a Bulldog

If you would have told me that three years ago, when I first decided to attend Butler University that our basketball team would have reached the Final Four my junior year, I would have told you to take a hike! A really long hike to think about what you just told me. Don't get me wrong from the second I came to Butler I fell in love with the basketball program because it was unlike any athletic program I had ever seen and it was starkly different than what I was use to, and saw on TV. Growing up I was a fan of the University of Cincinnati bearcats. I cheered on young men tattooed from head to toe and watched a coach (whom I respect) be caught for a DUI and be so intense and angry that he eventually gave himself a heart attack. More importantly the graduation rate of the players was atrocious.
But the second I was around the Butler basketball program I finally was able to be proud of a team for not just winning games but transcendently for the entire program's integrity. In an era where coaches like John Calipari are having past NCAA tournament wins removed for violations and completely burying their past two programs ten feet deep in violations, sanctions, and torn down banners the Butler Way stands out. Only under the shadow of this era do we truly notice how amazing the Butler Way is. Who knows, maybe other teams have similar montages that they supposably build their program on. Fact is, if they do, their actions in recruiting and running their program do not reflect the reality of what actually HAPPENS. Thats what makes the Butler Way special, that they are not standards that the coaches and players recite but that are actually lived and made real by everything from who and how the coaches recruit to a press conference after a final four victory displaying team over self. Sounds obvious, but this steadfast integrity and relentless approach to be exactly who the Butler Way says the team wants to be is unique.
I am proud to be a Butler Bulldog because I have watched our team pour its heart out onto the floor for four straight games. I don't think this is a lucky Cinderella run. Because of this goofy hat I have been wearing to all of the viewing parties at Butler I have been interviewed each time by some news station. Some guy asked me about my hat and I said that I am kinda superstitious and I have been wearing it for each game. He asked, "So are you the good luck charm?". The question made me angry and I may have reacted kinda harshly, "Heck no!" I said, "This has nothing to do with luck, its just us playing better basketball and wanting it more than the other team." Sure, we may not be AS athletic or talented as say Kentucky, Kansas, K-State, or Syracuse but not by much and hey! look who is left in the tournament. Again, in era where up and down athletic fast pace athleticism is seen as the way to cutting down nets the Butler style of play stands out: team over self, pass over shoot, defense over offense, and diving on the floor over watching someone else get the loose ball. I watched the Tennessee game and watched one of the players, last name Prince I believe, salute the crowd each time he made a good play. There is no room for that on Butler's squad. I am certain that "Stone Cold Stevens", as I like to call him, would sit that player down and make him think long and hard about what this program is about: a glance and cheer at our team's bench over a cocky arrogant salute to the crowd.
If I was in charge of a athletic team or program, (which will never happen) there is no doubt that I would build and model the program just like Butler has. I cant imagine any program that has been more successful (real success, not Calipari success) from top to bottom like Butler has been. That is why this is not a Cinderella run, but just an run that embodies and exempflies years and years of building from Tony Hinkle to Barry Collier to "Stone Cold Stevens" all men who did not sacrifice integrity for the momentary feeling of hanging a banner stained with violations, sanctions, DUI's, and terrible graduation rates. I cant wait to hang that banner from this years succes and be proud for the entiriety of a program. Because we all know that the ghost of Tony Hinkle would wait to we were all gone to tear down a banner out of the rafters of his gym that wasn't up to his standards.

Proud to be a Bulldog more than ever.

Butler to the Final Four

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Transcendental Wisdom

AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
-Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So Much More than Beautiful Poetry

"Still Today the Old Testament book of Psalms gives great power for faith and life. This is simply because it preserves a conceptually rich language about God and our relationship to him. If you bury rich language about God and our relationship to him. If you bury yourselves in Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life. And that is by no means a matter, as some suggest, of the "poetic effect" of the great language. No mere emotional lift is chiefly its picture of God and of life. We learn from the psalms how to think and act in reference to God. We drink in God and God's word from them. They provide vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by God himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and heats." Dallas Willard The Divine Conspiracy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mom/Nurse for Health Care

This semester I am taking on class on social movements. So far, its been relatively interesting and I've been learning a lot that I didn't know was behind or a part of a social movement. One of our assignments was to attend and observe a social movement event. Today, I went to an event where people gathered in support of health care reform and health care for all. Various people were given the bullhorn and asked to speak and tell a personal story about why they were for health care reform. One lady, a nurse and mom, gave an impromptu speech that I thought was incredible. She is I'm sure a great nurse, but she may have missed her calling as a social movement organizer. Enjoy...

Butler is to BIG yo

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Solo Trek Synopsis

Right before school started this summer I took a trip with my family to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I went willing with one stipulation; That I would get to go hiking for at least a day in the Smokey Mountains. What follows is a blog that I began but never finished about my first solo trip. Enjoy!... or don't.

Hiking in the wilderness alone this weekend was quite an experience. Within the past year I have picked up a huge passion for hiking and spending time in the wilderness. Since I have caught this bug I have only camped in groups no less than 4. Which has always been awesome and have loved and learned a lot from every minute of it.

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to take off for a day and night by myself in the Smokey Mountains. The Smokies although much lower in elevation than out west, always provide a very formidable challenge. Mostly because the trails are always extremely rocky and hard on your feet and there tends to be a lot of natural steps formed from the rockyness, which causes a ton of strain on your legs. Also, you are not climbing as high as you would in the rockies but your elevation increase pure mile is much higher. Basically the trail is always steep as hell.

For the first time in my hiking experience I used trekking poles. I have heard it said that they save you 60% of your energy on each step and although that number seems a little high they definitatly helped in various other ways. For one they saved me from rolling my ankle atleast seven times on the trail. Also being alone they give you a sense of comfort (false comfort) regardless they feel like company out on the trail and would help me defend myself against something that I came across? maybe. Anyways with all the time to myself and my thought I named my poles Lou Ellen and Regina. Lou Ellen is on the left and Regina is on the right. Overall a very worthy investment.

Saturday I hiked 17 miles and peaked Mt. Leconte, the second tallest peak in the smokies, twice in one day. It was one of the harder days of hiking I have ever had. The mileage made it tough but the steep climbs and the wet trail gave me wet heavy slipery boots the entire day that made it a much harder day than it would have been if i stayed dry.

I spent the night in a jam packed shelter with some really great people that I was able to hang around with and hear some great stories about life, family, careers, and places they had hiked. On the trail, much like veterans of war might share war stories with fellow veterans, we share stories, scars, and experiences of places we have hiked, each time trying to one up the person that just went. I lost the primordial pride battle quickly to a group of older much more versed hikers.

The next morning I woke up and could see that the sun was starting to creep its way over a distant mountain. I could tell even through my hazy and contact-less eyes that it was going to be a special sunrise. I packed as quickly as I could and headed for the "Jump Off". Someone had told me about a trial that juts off from the A.T. that ends with an incredible view. I knew after looking at my map the night before, that the view faced west and would provide for a perfect seat to watch the sunrise.

Almost as spectacular as the impending sunrise was the trail itself. It was eery, quite, lush, moist, dark, claustrophobic, and scary. It was right out of a fairy tail or a scene from the Lord of the Rings. It truly was a trail that was more than just a path to walk down, but very much alive and eliciting all types of different emotions and feelings out of me.

In hiking we tend to search for and enjoy the views, the peaks, and the big stuff the most. But I absolutely love when a simple trail full fills exactly what you are looking for in nature without providing a breath taking view or a monstrous mountain.

Anyways, I made my way to the end of the Jump Off and had low expectations because I figured that the clouds, fog, or smoke would be preventing a great view. Ironically, the smoke and clouds created the most beautiful and unique view I had ever scene. The trail came to a cliff that was straight down and clouds had literally rolled right up to the edge of this cliff and filled the entire valley floor for as far as I could see. In the distance were mountains that the sun was rising over. Purple, orange, and red were glowing past the mountain while clouds and smoke were literally pouring over the mountain, creating a waterfall of smoke. This all created the most spectacular, beautiful, intriguing, and unique sunrise or view I have come across yet.

I reluctantly took off and made my way back to the parking lot, where I had to walk/hitch hike my way back to my car 3 miles away. A nice man from Arkansas, with his young boy, and at least 5 bibles on the dashboard gave me a ride back to my car completing my first every solo adventure into the wilderness.

Going alone was interesting. It was definitely much more scary than I imagined it would be, but the solitude and the silence of the trail alone was worth the anxiety. You are literally just left to the sounds your boots make on the ground, the breath of your own lungs, running water and other natural sounds, and your own thoughts.

March Mandness

I find it hilarious that when March roles around everyone becomes an expert and a prophet. Some how people who have been barely been following basketball all year become experts about who will run the show, what the big upsets will be, and who the Cinderella team will be.

We know it wont happen how we or the experts predict it will happen, yet we don't hesitate in attempting to predict the future.

I looked into my smokey glass ball and guess what I saw. For the first time ever a number 1 seed loses to the 16 seeded team. Thats right, Vermont stuns Syracuse by shooting lights out against the 2-3 zone. Butler and Gonzaga face each other to get to the elite 8 for the showdown of the mid-majors. An epic game that etches itself into NCAA tourney lure when Gordan Hayward drains a last second shot to not only make it to the final 4 but to prove that Butler is the best mid-major thats not really a mid-major in the country.

I dont care what happens after that...It be nice if we kept winning, but I would be satisfied in making it that far.

Butler has made the tournament 12 of the last 14 years. Thats not easy my friends.

All I know is I cant wait for the tourney buzz to begin and for the upsets to appear out of no where. I am really am confident that this year all cylinders are clicking smoothly and at full gear for something special to happen. Could Butler be the next George Mason? Well in my very unbiased opinion, I think it is more than possible, and I am sure HOPING SO!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Does God Require of us?

WIthin the past few weeks I have been struggling with life in general. I have been doubting, angry, fighting, hating others, and I've been using violent passive aggressive tactics with friends. I have been told I am not good enough in various direct and indirect ways. I am a terrible son and brother.

Many of nights recently I have lied in bed wandering if I am really following christ.

If I am following christ would not I be different than I was a month, a year, or a week ago? Would not God answer my prayers, subdue my doubts, and heal holes in me from past relationships?

The question that remains is what does God require of us?

What has comforted me through this interesting time is the truth that God does not require or demand change or growth. Those things, growth, change, and transformation are in God's hands and for as hard as I try to "be like I feel God wants me to be" I will fail.

God shows us that he works on his divine timetable, that we can not alter with our anxiousness or our worries. (Resurrection of Lazarus, Healing of Jairus' Daughter, Moses Exodus, etc.)

I also know that it is truth that to come to God we need not change, but only come humbly in our brokenness and sinfulness before God in the hope that we might know God more. I think that might be it: God wants us to be intimate with him and for him to get to know us and for us to get to God. To attempt, try, to claw at, to work at, to pursue relentlessly our creator in the hopes that we might KNOW God more.

Then and only then in our Humility, Brokenness, and Pusural of God will we find life as it was meant to be. And who knows maybe we will Change, Grow, and Transform and maybe we wont. Maybe tomorrow I will be healed permanently of past relationships maybe I will be on my death bad praying for God to heal me. Doesn't matter as long as I come under the shadow of God each day and each moment in Humility and Brokenness hoping to know the creator of the cosmos all the way down to the color of my eyes more.