This Post is Inviting

October 17, 2017 v4 p46

There are some times when the weekly readings at Mass don’t have as big of an impact on me as others.  The readings from this past Sunday was not one of those times.

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When Jesus was with us on earth he did a lot of teaching.  He taught his disciples.  He taught the poor.  He taught the sick.  He taught the sinners.  He didn’t pick and choose who he taught, because He loves everyone equally.  What He did do was teach everyone in different ways.  When the disciples were taught it was in a straight forward manner.  This was because they believed.  This was because they followed.  They did this without question.  When He did most of his teaching it was through parables.  In Matthew 13:13 Jesus explains using parables because, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”  This week’s Gospel reading discusses the parable of the wedding banquet.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this parable here’s a quick recap.  The King had prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  He invited many guests and they didn’t arrive.  After a second invitation and refusal the King had them killed.  He then sent His servants out to invite all that they encountered.  Many attended but when the King came to one attendee who was not dressed in his wedding attire, he had him bound and expelled into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  There are more details in the story, but for sake of drawing this post out too long, there is the “Cliff’s Notes” version.  I’ve heard this parable taught a few times before, but it wasn’t until this past week that it showed itself in a different context to me.

There is a lot of tension in our country as of late.  It’s causing a lot of violence and hate towards each other.  People who were once good friends are finding that they can no long put aside their differences.  Family members are alienating themselves from each other and tearing each other down and apart.  If I were to look at the United States from the outside I would almost think that we were in a civil war, it has escalated to that point.  It really pains me to see the way some people treat each other.  It really pains me to see how people are so centered on themselves and what they want.  It is difficult for me to understand how a person could be like that.  I really can’t fathom it.

What I really have the hardest time dealing with is how everyone seems to think that their way is the right way.  That belief is usually followed by the thought that if your opinion is different than theirs then you must be the enemy and they must hate you.  Both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this.  It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on, I’ve seen both do it.  I don’t claim to be innocent of this myself.  There were times, as recently as three years ago, where I wasn’t always able to see things from a different perspective than my own.  The more time I’ve spent in prayer and studying my faith, the clearer it has become to me how much of a sinner I was and still am.  What I have done is made a conscious effort to change.  I still catch myself trending towards that type of behavior, but I can now recognize it better and stop myself.

So how does that parable tie into all of this?  The king in the story is God.  He invites all of us to feast at the wedding banquet of his son Jesus.  This is an invitation to enter His kingdom, Heaven.  If we don’t except that invitation, well, you read my synopsis.  But what about those of us who decide to attend the banquet?  Should we just show up however we would like?  When you are invited to a wedding do you just show up?  No, you dress appropriately for the occasion.  So if we “just show up” to the Father’s banquet for his Son, are we really giving our best?  There needs to be more.

If you go to church on Sunday but don’t live the life you are called to live the other six days of the week then you are one of those who “just show up.”  I’m thankful that when God sent his only son, Jesus didn’t “just show up.”  He showed us how to better love Him, and how to love one another.  So many times we forget that in order to live to what the fullest of what He wants we need to remember how we were taught.  In Matthew 22:37-39 we are taught “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  So many do the opposite, they love themselves before God and they don’t even think to love one another.  It’s leading our country and the human race down a very steep, and slippery slope.

We are all invited to this great banquet.  It’s up to you decide which role in this parable you’re going to play.  Are you going to be someone who ignores the invitation no matter how many times is comes, someone who “just shows up” or one of the guests who enjoys the great offerings at the banquet?  One of the greatest things God has done for us was to give us free will.  You are free to choose which of those roles you wish to play.  Because of that freedom though, you must also be willing to accept the consequences that come with the role you choose to play.  I know which role I’m going to choose to play.

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I don’t claim to be without flaws, but I’m working on correcting them and trying to better show love to God and others.  I’m doing my best not to lose my invitation, and I hope more people join me at this banquet.

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Three for Thursday:Week 6

October 13, 2017 v4 p45

The sixth week of college football saw more key matchups in conference play.  The whole picture is beginning to clear up as the weather turns colder.

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Michigan – The great equalizer of weather really exposed the weakest points of The Wolverines team, pass protection and quarterback.  Indecisive passing, questionable play calling, turnovers, and some receivers seemingly growing T-Rex arms were too much to overcome in the monsoon like conditions of the second half.  The defense once again showed why it is one of the top in the nation, keeping Michigan in the game with an opportunity to win on a last second Hail Mary pass.

Michigan State – The Spartans came to Ann Arbor with a chip on their shoulder and the mobility of Quarterback Brian Lewerke caused enough trouble for the Spartans to jump out to a 14-3 first half lead.  A lackluster performance on offense after their second touchdown showed that they still have a long way to go before they can be considered in the top tier of the conference again.  With their QB being the top runner for the season it has to be an improved defense that has helped them the most to get to a 4-1 record.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes scored 50+ points for the third straight game, but against the likes of UNLV, Rutgers, and Maryland it’s still hard to really know how good the Buckeye offense really is.  In their only game against a ranked opponent they struggled to move the ball and really couldn’t do much to stop the opposition.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin continues to distance themselves from the rest of the division.  Iowa bounced back from a tough road loss to Michigan State and new head coach PJ Fleck is finding that the seas are a little tougher to navigate his row boat through in a power five conference.  I’m finding it hard to see the Badgers losing a divisional game this season.

Notre Dame – The Irish traveled to North Carolina to face a Tar Heel team that was expected to perform better than they are, based on last year’s success.  After a scoreless first quarter there really wasn’t any doubt who the better team was on this day.  It definitely wasn’t the team with the argyle field.

SEC – Alabama couldn’t become the second team this season to win three straight games by scoring more than 50 points, but they weren’t ever really in any trouble against Texas A&M.  The Bulldogs look to be the only real threat to the Crimson Tide repeating as conference champs.  Then again, there’s always the Iron Bowl against Auburn, who looks to have returned to being a solid threat in that game.

ACC – Clemson continued to cruise with Wake Forest scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns to make the final score appear closer than it was.  Could Miami be a player on the national level again?  Florida State is probably hoping for a do over on the 2017 season after losing their starting QB in the opener to a season ending knee injury and having to games cancelled due to a hurricane (not their opponent from last week either).

Pac 12 – Washington and Washington St both rolled to victories and look to be headed to the Apple Cup to decide who will represent that side of the conference in the championship game.  USC rebounded with a convincing win over Oregon State.  The rest of the conference looks like they are far behind the top three schools mentioned above.

Big 12 – Oklahoma invited Iowa St to play last week and looked to be in solid control of the game after the first half, but that’s why they play two halves.  The Hornfrogs from TCU continued to win against the third ranked team from the conference, but that ranking is still under question.  The rest of the conference is so muddle up, I still have a hard time thinking the conference will be represented in the College Football Playoffs.

Western Michigan – The Broncos traveled to New York for their first conference road game against Buffalo.  After the longest and highest scoring game in NCAA history WMU maintained their unblemished record in conference play.  A reminder to siblings, stay off the field until the game is over.

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Indiana – The Wolverines travel south this week to face the Hoosiers in their second road conference game.  The Hoosiers have been known in the past to have mobile quarterbacks, and a recent change in starter has lead this team back in that direction.  Indiana chose their Homecoming game to be the one where they try to end a 21 game losing streak against Michigan.

The weather isn’t going to be getting any better as the season moves along, the teams that can adapt better will be more successful.  The conference games are really making it easier to see who’s for real and who isn’t.

This Post is Fallen

October 11, 2017 v4 p44

As I get more into learning about my faith I am really beginning to understand just how much I didn’t know.  The more my faith grows, the more I wish I had been able to learn this earlier in life.

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I am what is known as a “Cradle Catholic.”  I was Baptized shortly after my birth, I’m trying to find the exact date so I can make it a more prominent date in my life.  I was always brought to church on Sunday, and during the school year attended Sunday School, what is more commonly called Faith Formation in today’s church.  I wasn’t ever really given a good reason as to why I was Catholic.  I was never really told what it meant to be Catholic.  I always just knew that I was Catholic.

Graduating from high school and moving off to school meant that I was more in control of my own schedule.  It meant that if I was not home for the weekend I could sleep as late as I wanted and not have to attend Mass.  It meant that if I went home once a month or so I could justify that as being enough church.  I still went to Christmas and Easter services, but I was never more than a “Creaster” or a “Church CEO.”  That meant that I only really attended Mass on Christmas and Easter only.  I used to believe that these were the most heavily attended services throughout the year because I there were often a lot of visitors from out of town.  In reality it was because of all of the “Creasters.”

When my wife and I became engaged and made the decision that we wanted to be married in the church we knew we would have to go through some kind of marriage preparations through the Church.  We fulfilled our obligation, but I think barely enough so the Priest would sign off on our classes.  We discussed this the other night, about how much differently we should have handled those prep classes.  Our wedding was a Catholic wedding, but now we’re both kind of wishing we had held a full Catholic Mass wedding, instead of just the portion that would be enough.  We fully believe that we have created a Covenant with God, and I’m the story of our marriage supports that.

Part of the problem with my faith in my younger years is that I didn’t really fully understand why my parents told me I had to go to all of the church functions.  I was only told that I had to go.  That caused me to check out when I attended events.  Usually when you tell a kid that have to do something and you can’t give any better reason than that, they won’t try to find a reason.  They’ll just go through the motions.  They’ll end up looking forward to being away from home and being able to set their own schedule for Sunday mornings.  They’ll become “Creasters.”

One of the things I noticed right away when I returned to my faith was the demographics.  I looked around during Mass, at Parrish functions, and within the different groups from my church and I saw something kind of disturbing.  I saw a lot of older couples.  I saw a lot of younger people.  I saw a pretty active group of middle school and high school kids.  What I didn’t see was a very present or active group of couples, parents, or adults close in the same age as me and my wife.  As we’ve attended more events and services over the past few years I’ve begun to see more people who fit that demographic, but there is probably the smallest demographic representation of my age group or generation.

I knew there was a pretty large number of people who left the church more or less the same time I did.  Some for other reasons such as scandal, change in beliefs, or another unknown reasons that were different than mine.  I had reconnected on social media with a lot of the people I went through my faith formation with as a teenager.  I noticed that a lot of them were attending Christian Churches of other denominations besides The Catholic Church, or they weren’t attending church at all, as far as I could tell.  It never really dawned on me until after I made my own return that this had happened.  I found it refreshing that they were still active in faith.  At the same time though it made me wonder what had made them stray away from their Catholic upbringing.  Had they left The Church because of those scandals?  Had they moved to a different denomination because of a spouse?  It was rather interesting to me.  Now the more I learn about my own faith, it interests me even more.

There are some pretty significant people in my life that are Catholic as well.  One has always attended Mass with his wife and family through his entire adult life.  I’ve shared some of the resources I’ve begun using to grow my faith and I he has thanked me and told me it’s made a difference in his faith.  My brother was raised a “Cradle Catholic” as well, but strayed away for the most of the same reasons I did.  I can see in his life where he could benefit from some of the same resources I use.  The hard time there is I’m the little brother, so I have a difficult time telling myself that he would be willing to listen.  A third person that fits this description is my niece.  She was received fully into The Church later in her life after he parents had been through a pretty messy divorce.  Shortly after her Confirmation the continuation of her faith was kind of put on hold.  I’ve found out that she is attending church, but I’m not sure which denomination that is, or how often she’s attending.

I feel a calling to reach these types of people.  Having received grace after living in sin and returning I can testify to the fact that it is not only possible, but that there is no greater experience someone can have than returning home to The Father.  What really interests me is to find out why these people left in the first place.  I would like to hear from these people.  Whether they went through faith formation with me.  Whether they have been attending their whole lives and feel like they could be getting more.  I’d like to hear your story.  I’d like to share more of mine with you.  It’s been a great adventure.

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I don’t claim to all of the answers.  What I do have is a lot of resources I’ve found on my journey, and the will to listen.

Three for Thursday:Week 5

October 5, 2017 v4 p43

Week five in college football didn’t feature a lot of matchups between ranked opponents.  There were only three teams in the top 25 that lost, and two of them were in the games against other ranked opponents.

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Michigan – The bye week probably couldn’t have come at a better time.  It should allow them to adjust to a new starting quarterback, but they better not have any excuses as their in-state rival takes the bus trip down the road for the spotlight game of the week.  We did find out during the bye week the Coach Harbaugh is quite the platform diver, and is smart enough to empty his pockets before jumping in.

Michigan State – The Spartans actually held onto the ball in week five, which makes it much easier to win.  The defense showed that it is still pretty strong, but I’m not sure how strong based on Iowa’s lack of mobility.  My biggest take away is that this win for the Spartans tells us more about Penn State than it does about Michigan State.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes had no problem handling Rutgers.  I still don’t know what to believe about JT Barrett.  I mean, they beat Rutgers, who would be relegated if the NCAA had a relegation system.

B1G West – Wisconsin is starting to show that it is once again the team to beat on that side of the conference.  Two losses to the east division don’t bode well for the west.  Northwestern could be the second best team in the west at 2-2.

Notre Dame – It wasn’t quite Catholics versus Convicts as the Irish played Miami, of Ohio.  A first quarter explosion of touchdowns really put the game out of reach early.  With the toughest teams in the ACC not on their schedule this year we’ll have to evaluate this team based on their performances against the PAC 12 teams.

SEC – Alabama continues to roll.  Georgia looks to be the favorite to win the east, but will they be able to compete in the conference championship game in December?  Florida’s narrow victory over Tennessee, and then Tennessee getting blown out by UGA really makes me wonder how weak the rest of the east is.

ACC – The marquee matchup of the week in the country was Clemson versus Virginia Tech.  The Hokies really didn’t put up much of a challenge as the Tigers rolled to an easy victory.  Florida State may have finally gotten a little momentum with their first victory of the season.

PAC 12 – The biggest upset of the week came on Friday as the USC Trojans traveled to Washington State and fell in a 30-27 loss.  I think the biggest thing this tells us is that WSU is probably better than originally advertised.  It should set up for an interesting Apple Cup game to end the season.

Big 12 – The Baylor Bears continue to show that they may have been given a death sentence even though the program was allowed to continue operating.  It’s pretty rare for a team to go from where they were last year to struggling to score in any conference, let alone the wide open Big 12.  I still have a hard time believing too much from any team in this conference beside Oklahoma.

Western Michigan – The Broncos really showed that they are going to be a dominant force in the MAC.  Both sides of the ball were dominated by Coach Lester’s team for the entire 60 minutes, but is that because he’s a good coach or because PJ Fleck left him a stocked roster?  This game did feature Darius Philips on the offensive side of the ball for what should be many times to come.

Michigan State – Arguably one of the biggest in state rivalries in the entire sport takes place this week as the Spartans will hop on a bus Saturday morning and make the 71 minute bus ride from East Lansing to Ann Arbor.  The well-rested Wolverines should be ready for “little brother” to come over the Big House this week and show why they have the top ranked defense in the country.  The weather man is calling for rain, so that might make it even more difficult for LJ Scott to hang on to the ball.

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The schedule for week five was kind of ho-hum, but it’s getting closer to October and that means the season is heating up.  I can’t wait.

This Post is Third

October 4, 2017 v4 p42

One of the many things that I learned from my parents was that I needed to help other people out.  That seems like common sense, but it’s not just about helping, but serving.

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Many people know how active I am in my home town.  I have been heading up the Cub Scout program for nine plus years.  I continue to do that even though my own children have moved on from it because their ages have forced them to move on to Boy Scouts.  I have been coaching my younger son’s soccer team since he began playing back in first grade.  I stepped back into an assistant role one year, but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going work.  I wanted to be able to teach my son and his teammates in different ways than the coach I was assisting, so that only last one year.  Working with elementary aged kids can be really fun.  It can also be really trying at times, luckily the fun times are greater.

Part of the reason I stepped up to volunteer in these two positions is because I wanted to make sure my son had an enjoyable experience in both areas.  Having been a registered Scout since I was in first grade and having played soccer for just about as long I was confident that I could make that happen.  It has taken me some time to develop my ways of leading in these two areas, but I can confidently say that I have been successful in both areas.  When I see the boys who have gone through the Cub Scout program under my leadership attain the rank of Eagle Scout, and how much they worked to get it, I can tell I had an impact.  When I can see the skill level of my son’s soccer team improve dramatically from the beginning to the end of the season, I can tell I had an impact.  When parents are requesting to have their children placed on my team because they know I will coach them right on the field and off, I can tell I had an impact.

Ultimately that is why I do all of that, to see the impact I make in those young men.  That isn’t the only way that I serve.  I try to do my best to serve in everything I do.  At work I show up and do the best I can to make sure my coworkers have everything they need to get their job done.  I also show up and work as hard as possible to make that happen.  In every job I’ve ever held that is the attitude I went in with every day.  That’s what my parent taught me to do.  Because of that in every job I’ve ever had I have always been given more responsibilities, which have come along with more pay and often times promotions.  The only time I was ever placed into a leadership role during employment without “climbing the ladder” was when I was hired as a Department Team Leader for Meijer.  At that point in my life I hadn’t held any leadership positions in a job, but the Store Director who interviewed me was also an Eagle Scout (still is), and knew with that and their training program I could be a success.

As I’ve grown in my faith over the past few years I’ve been able to find new ways to serve.  I joined the local Knights of Columbus Council at my church.  That has afforded me the opportunity to create some great connections to other Catholic Gentlemen.  We do all of that through service to the church and the community.  The best part of that group is that I’m way at the back of the line of a bunch of men who have the same service mindset that I do.  It’s a refreshing change to just show up and be a worker bee sometimes.  I’ve begun serving my family through my faith too.  I have been living my faith life in a way that it is visible to them.  I try to show my son how to be a better follower of Christ.  My wife and I watch speakers on YouTube in the evenings more often than we watch broadcast television.  That has helped us strengthen our relationship and our family.  There are so many things I wish I could go back and do.

The more I do all of the volunteering I, the more is taxes my personal time.  There are many days, especially in the early fall, where I often don’t get home until 8pm.  That means I haven’t had dinner until late, and it’s almost always by myself.  That’s not good because I’m losing time with my family and because eating that late during the day, close to bed time, isn’t good for a person’s health.  It’s usually about this time of year when I start to get burned out.  In the past I was able to sleep in on or take a nap on the weekends.  Then I started to realize that doing things that way wasn’t allowing my body to recover properly.  Because of my desire to make sure my kids are getting the best program they can I continue to be the one who steps up.  This burn out point is where most people usually end up walking away.  Sometimes I really wish I would be able to just walk away like that, but it always causes an internal conflict.

The time has come for me to walk away though.  For the past nine years I have held the position of Committee Chair for the Cub Scout Pack in my home town.  As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t had a child in that program since February of this year.  I am committed to fulfill that position through the end of 2017.  At that point I intend to move into a different position that I currently already hold, Chartering Organization Representative.  That is the communication line between the Scout Unit and the supporting organization.  I would still be available on a consulting basis because I don’t think I will find a replacement that would have the knowledge on how to run the Pack that I do.  Whoever would take the position from me would then face the same situation I am in and need replacing.  It’s really a vicious cycle.

Just because I would be stepping away from that position doesn’t mean I would stop serving.  Stepping away would allow me to serve in a different way.  The more I’ve been studying and learning about my faith, the more I feel called to serve more within it.  This isn’t something I think that I feel.  There is a definite pull in that direction.  I’m not sure what that serving would like at this point in time, but I never will if I don’t answer the call.  I’ve always gotten satisfaction from the secular volunteering I’ve done in the past, but it doesn’t compare to what I get when I serve in my faith.  Serving in that manner gives me more than satisfaction, it gives me a sense of fulfillment.  It shows me how to receive His grace and mercy.  As much as I want to lead young men to be better leaders, I want to show others how to better live their lives for God.  How to receive His grace and mercy in their own lives.  Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

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I worry about what will happen to the Scouting program in my town if I step away from the program in the capacity I currently serve.  But I worry more about my family and myself more if I don’t make Him first, my family second, and myself third.

Three for Thursday:Week 4

September 27, 2017 v4 p41

Week four of the college football means that most of the cupcake games are over and we are getting into the beginning of conference schedules.  Now we’ll start to see what teams are made of and who were the frauds in the preseason polls.

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Michigan – The Wolverines played their first true road game in a match up that many thought could be a trap game at Purdue.  The Boilermakers came out swinging, but knocking out starting Quarterback Wilton Speight with one of several cheap shots may have been the wrong approach as the offense seemed to find some success behind back up John O’Korn.  The defense once again showed why many think this is one of the best units in the land, holding their opponent to one yard of total offense in the second half, no amount of poor facilities can overcome that kind of ineptitude.

Michigan State – After an early bye week the Spartans played host to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Turnovers seemed to doom the Spartans on their way to a 20 point defeat.  Michigan State did show that they are able to move the ball pretty well behind Quarterback Brian Lewerke, but they just have to take better care of it if they wish to continue to win games.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes did have a cupcake matchup in week 4, but they opened their conference schedule in week one, so that adjusts things a little.  An overmatched UNLV team came to Columbus and never really had a chance.  JT Barrett did throw 5 touchdown passes, but against what caliber of defense.

B1G West – Nebraska ended up being the only team from this side of the division that was able to come away with a victory.  The fact that Wisconsin was on a bye probably had something do with that though.  The loss by Iowa at home to Penn St. may have been the best game all weekend, as the Nittany Lions escaped Kinnick Stadium on a walk-off touchdown.

Notre Dame – The Irish traveled north to East Lansing and showed that they are further along on the road to recovering from the 2016 season than the Spartans.  The defense is turning out to be much improved over last season.  The week 4 victory was never really in doubt as they jumped out to an early lead and cruised to victory.

SEC – The only losses in the SEC this week came during conference matchups.  Vanderbilt showed that, although improved, they have a long way to go as they suffered the Alabama effect.  The Crimson Tide amassed more total yardage and total points in one game than The Commodores had given up in their first three games.

ACC – The NC State Wolf Pack traveled to Tallahassee and pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend by knocking off a ranked Florida State team.  Two extra weeks proved to be too much rust instead of rest for the Seminoles.  In a matchup of traditional basketball rivals things held true to form, as the road team Duke was able to pull away in the fourth quarter with a 10 point win.

Pac 12 – The Trojans from USC overcame a close first half against in-state rival Cal, but ultimately pulled away in the second half.  Washington and Washington State both cruised to the fourth straight victories, while newly ranked Oregon dropped out with a road loss at Arizona State.  Stanford started to right the ship with an easy home win over UCLA.

Big 12 – Oklahoma was able to remain unbeaten in a shoot-out with Baylor.  The lowest scoring game in the conference this week was Texas Tech versus Houston, and they still put a combined 51 points.  I still have a hard time believing this conference isn’t the weakest in the country since most scores look like basketball games instead of football.

Western Michigan – The Broncos hosted an over-matched FCS team in Wagner.  They really were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted to with the ball on offense, putting two of their running backs over the century mark.  I’m sure Darius Phillips enjoyed the chance to not have to make pivotal plays to keep WMU in the game, but I did kind of miss watching how much of a difference he can make.

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Michigan has a bye week this weekend so I’ll preview the matchup of the week instead

Clemson at Virginia Tech – The Tigers take their number 2 ranking into Blacksburg for a tough road test.  Clemson hasn’t had too much difficulty so far this year, but that may change in a hostile road environment.  Virginia Tech has face West Virginia, but that was at home and they’re in the Big 12, so I have a hard time believing they’ll really be much of a challenge for Clemson, but I hope I’m wrong.

Some of the early conference games can be cupcakes too.  The real nitty-gritty starts in mid-October and just gets better from there.

This Post is Objective

 

September 26, 2017 v4 p40

I’ve been really trying to focus on writing about my faith for the most part, but in light of recent events I’ve felt compelled to give a response.  I wrote one on Sunday that you can read here, but decided to only post it to my page instead of publicly because it didn’t really convey my message how I wanted.  Here’s my take on the whole Colin Kaepernick/NFL/President Trump issue.

Truth can be defined by two simple words, what is.  There are two kinds of truths in the world.    One type of truth is subjective truth, where something is true about a subject. The other type of truth is objective truth, where something is true about an object.  An example of a subject truth would be the statement that I prefer Coke over Pepsi.  For me Coke tastes better.  For someone else Pepsi may taste better.  Does the fact that I prefer Coke to Pepsi in my cola choices make it any less true for someone who believes Pepsi is better?  No.  This type of example can be applied to a lot of different ideas.  An example of an objective truth would be that the colors of the American Flag are red, white, and blue.  That is an objective truth that cannot be changed.  If you change the colors of the American Flag, then it is no longer the same thing.

So let’s apply this principle to the situation that is currently the hot topic on social media.  Former NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to protest police brutality by sitting during the National Anthem prior to an NFL preseason football game.  After a couple of weeks and consulting a former NFL player turned Green Beret, he decided it would be better for him to continue his protest by kneeling.  Over time more players showed their support by doing the same thing, in the NFL and other sports.  Over time the total number of players continuing this protest was down to four during week two of the NFL season.  Did Colin Kaepernick have the right to perform his protest in this manner?  According to the United States Flag Code, Section 9 (http://www.military.com/flag-day/us-flag-code.html) he did.  The code only specifies that non-military personnel should stand during the hoisting, lowering or passing of flag.  The key word in here is should.

On Friday September 22 President Trump remarked at a speech and then posted on Twitter the following day that players who don’t stand for the National Anthem should be fired.  The President of our country does not need to be concerning himself with the personnel decisions of a private entity.  According the United States legal code, that is in fact illegal (U.S. Code > Title 18 > Part I > Chapter 11 > 227).  The list of public officials mentioned in that code that cannot influence employment decisions by private entities list everyone, up to, and including The President.  I’m pretty sure this is being overlooked for the time being.

A lot of arguments are being made that it is a person’s First Amendment Right to protest by kneeling during the National Anthem.  A lot of counter arguments are being made to state that right is not protected while performing your job.  I have seen multiple social media posts of screen shots of the NFL rule book regarding the playing of the National Anthem.  It states nothing about the players being required to be on the field.  It does say players on the field and bench area should stand at attention.  There’s that key word again, should.  It goes on to state that players violating this rule are subject to discipline.  I cannot recall anytime a player has been disciplined for kneeling during the National Anthem.  A lot of people have pointed out that the First Amendment isn’t protected in your workplace.  Based on the lack of discipline from the NFL and their response to President Trump last weekend, I’m going to guess that they are going to allow their players to exercise that right.

So where does the truth come in to this whole issue?  A lot of people feel it is disrespectful for these types of actions to go on.  That doesn’t change the fact that the objective truth about the matter is that unless the NFL forces it’s players to stop the protests, they will be allowed to continue.  The President has no right to force any person to stand for the National Anthem.  That has gone on in places like Nazi Germany and present day North Korea.  Our country has always been a democracy, not an authoritarianism.  Another way the truth has to be applied to this whole subject is whether or not it is disrespectful to the U.S. Flag, our military personnel (both currently serving and veterans), and to our country.  According to the law it is not, that is an objective truth.  That cannot be untrue just because of how you feel.

In response to the NFL’s show of unity an increased number of players and their team owners took a knee or simply just stayed off the field during the National Anthem on Sunday and Monday a lot of people who are against this protest have begun to find ways to show their patriotism.  One of the ways they are doing that is by adding a U.S. flag border to their social media profile pictures.  Since everyone was so enraged by a citizen exercising his First Amendment Right by “disrespecting” the flag I thought I would take a look in the U.S Flag Code for some answers.  Paragraph Eight of the code is entirely dedicated to respect for the flag.  I speaks about how the flag should never be displayed upside down, touch the ground, or be carried flat, or horizontally (the NFL may want to take a look at that one).  What it does go on to describe is how it shouldn’t be used in advertising, profile pictures are advertising you.  It also speaks about how it shouldn’t be printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard (Paragraph 8, Article I).

That last point really raised some questions in my own life.  I thought about whether or not I owned any clothing with the flag on it.  I wondered how many times I used a napkin at a Memorial Day cook out, wiped my dirty face with the U.S Flag, crumpled it up and threw it out.  Then I started seeing all the people who were denouncing the protest as disrespectful on Sunday, and noticed that more than a few of them had clothing with the flag on it.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be treating that clothing the same way they would the flag.  When the clothing becomes too worn to wear anymore, would they hold a proper retirement ceremony and burn them?  Probably not.  In the flag code it states that any form of mutilation of the flag is a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $100 and 30 days in jail.  I know I’ve been guilty of that on more than one occasion, but my ways will change.  This is the letter of law, another objective truth.

While I don’t agree with Kaepernick’s protest, I do believe in his right to perform it.  The main reason I don’t agree with his protest is because he isn’t accomplishing anything towards the subject he started protesting about, police injustices against minorities.  If he truly wanted to invoke change in this matter he would do more than just kneel during the National Anthem.  He chose to take this stand and has paid the consequences.  A lot of people believe that the main reason he isn’t an active player on an NFL roster is because of the protests.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true, but it’s hard to prove that after the response from the league last weekend.  I’m not in favor of the protests myself because I choose to stand during the National Anthem to show my respect.  If you or anyone else chooses protest in the same manner, I believe you have that right.  I cannot change that, but I also won’t have to deal with the consequences that come forth following your display.

All of this bickering back and forth on social media really doesn’t accomplish anything.  The only thing I see it doing is causing division between friends, family, and our country.  The last thing we need right now is for us to be more divided.  We have fellow citizens in the Gulf of Mexico who face the prospect of not having electricity for multiple months.  Most of us have a difficult time going without it for hours, let alone days.  Try not knowing when it will come back on, or if it will at all.  In times like this we must be reminded of what Jesus tells us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  I don’t see a whole lot of that going on in our country, not just related to the issue with the flag.  It’s becoming a problem.  It almost seems as if we are in the midst of our second civil war.

I don’t claim to be perfect.  In fact I am a terrible sinner.  But I’m making a conscious effort to change my ways.  I’m making a conscious effort to evangelize the word of Christ in hopes to help even just one person change.

Matthew 7: tells us “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is your own eye?”

Or maybe your closet.