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The mostly coherent thoughts of a church musician and rabid sports fan. My views are my own.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Night Lights: The Finale

Through its five-year run on NBC and DirecTV, "Friday Night Lights" has had many people battle for it, ratings and executives be damned. I, too, waged my own personal war of words with my fiance for a good two years, imploring her to give the show a chance. Her hang-up came with the style in which the pilot episode was shot, using a documentary style that she found annoying. The tipping point came last fall when she made it to Episode 2, then 3, and the rest, as they say, was history. It is only fitting, then, that the series finale began just as that pilot did, with news cameras buzzing around Coach Taylor's team, players being interviewed in tailgating tents, and Coach giving enough "No comments" to impress Terrell Owens. Friday night's finale, "Always," was a fitting end to a fantastic show, and followed the pattern of the show: always about Eric and Tami Taylor's relationship, always about family, always about life. Football may dictate much of life in Dillon, Texas, but even it takes a back seat to the important things.

Two moments in the finale stood out to me more than the rest; the first was the dinner that the Taylors and Matt Saracen shared, where they discussed Matt and Julie's decision to get married. As Eric dispensed his wisdom about marriage, relationship, and compromise, it became readily apparent that he had not followed his own advice and in so doing, upset Tami in a way that we hadn't seen in any of the previous four seasons. The second moment came when Julie showed Tami the engagement ring, and told her that it belonged to Matt's grandmother. In that instant, there was a palpable change in mood as Tami realized the engagement might not have been as hasty or misguided as she and Eric initially thought. Their reconciliation in the mall was a wonderful moment, even if it did come dangerously close to the sappy ending of a Reese Witherspoon flick. I particularly enjoyed the tight shot on the couple's embrace, with the camera focusing on Tami's wedding band and engagement ring.

Then, there was the final play of the state championship, which segued into the final montage, brilliantly shadowed by Delta Spirit's "Devil Knows You're Dead." Throughout the show's history, much has been made of the improbable last-second victories that the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions pulled out. It was that much better, then, that we never knew the result of that final play until we caught a glimpse of Vince's bejeweled right hand while going through the motions as the Panthers' QB1. We saw Vince launch one last sixty-yard bomb that his father touted all year, and saw the ball land some 1,600 miles in the hands of a Philadelphia wide receiver. Tami had her job at Braemore, and Eric was still coaching football. Jason Street's name is still in the Dillon locker room, Matt and Julie are still together, and clear eyes and full hearts still can't lose, even as the lights were turned out. "Texas forever," indeed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

BROFILES IN COURAGE: John Haley, Groomsman

In the second installment of the Brofiles in Courage, we take a look at the relationship between Peter and his original bro, John. A true American hero, John stands for all that is right and good in our fair country: babes, beer, and bro time. This training started at a young age for both men, as they had a great example in their father, Mike. Whether they were playing ball in the backyard or riding bikes through the neighborhood, they did it with all the joy and aplomb of two boys without a care in the world. The two even invented a sport for rainy days and pre-Facebook summer afternoons: hall ball, where many a carpet burn was developed.

Of course, no brotherly relationship is complete without its fair share of tussles and tension, and the boys' bond was no different. The current tally for all wrestling matches, slap fights, blood drawn, and other minutiae stands at 178-178, with neither brother willing to cede ground.

Ever the charmer, John's ability to woo the ladies is legendary. Many a filly has fallen under the spell of ol' Blue Eyes, and for good reason. After all, he learned from his brother, who taught John everything he needed to know about the game. Fair warning to all women attending the Haley-Heavener wedding: you will be wooed, and you will like it. Play your cards right, and John might even tell you about the cool times he and Peter shared when they had bunk beds.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Open Letter to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Wes Spears has summed it all up:

We love dissent, but we also love organized, systematic efforts toward creating new things. We want something different, something new. Invitations to golf matches and pictures of white males on the green in Tampa are not exactly projecting that message to us.

I had a similar conversation with friends in late April, where we agreed that the face of CBF could not be a mid-50s white male. More than that, the CBF cannot expect to continue operating as a reactive group, seeing what they can get away with as more CBF churches are voted out of the SBC. If anything, they should try to be more like the Alliance of Baptists, not caring what the SBC thinks anymore and promoting a law of love for all people to live under. Read the rest of Wes' letter here:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BROFILES IN COURAGE: Miller Yoho, Best Man

The legend of Miller Yoho is legendary, on a level that only Barney Stinson could understand. From an early age, young Miller charmed the ladies with his good looks, prowess on the baseball diamond, and destructive tendencies in games of British Bulldog during youth group. Considering that Peter shared these gifts, it comes as no surprise that the two young men quickly grew to become friends.
Heckling is a necessary skill for any youth, and it was no different for these two. Whether it was something as simple as making fun of others in the youth group during competitions, or calling out the girls who didn't close their eyes during bible study prayers, Yoho and Haley were the best. Their heckling knew no bounds, with each man finding ways to get under the other's skin. Miller's triumphant moment came during the heated Ashbrook-Forestview soccer game in the fall of 2007 at Ashbrook, which found the entire Forestview section chanting "PE-TER HA-LEY" over and over again while Peter rode the oak for much of the evening. Peter had his vengeance the next spring as the rivals locked horns again, this time on the baseball diamond. Although no one remembers exactly what was said by Peter, the end result was tremendous: Miller started laughing in the middle of an at-bat.
Outside the realm of high school sports, the boys' friendship was forged in youth group, where they would most often sing the girls' parts of worship songs in falsetto, to no one's entertainment but their own. Many mission trips and ultimate frisbee afternoons served as opportunities for the two to grow closer in friendship and hijinks.
A tremendous purveyor of spotty facial hair, Herr Yoho sets the standard for wannabe hipsters with $120K educations. Ask him nicely, and he'll regale you with tales of his time on the plantation. A gentleman of substance and wit, Miller Yoho is the Best Man for your frisbee team, and the Haley-Heavener wedding.


In the run-up to the wedding, I'll be profiling the young men who have accepted the highest honor of being groomsmen in my wedding. Tales of bravery, romance, and integrity will shed light on how these gentlemen came to be called as bros. The first installment in this series will be a profile of Miller Yoho, Best Man.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seven Habits: Private Victories and Proactivity

As a former college athlete, I can attest to the fact that although games are decided on the field in front of crowds, much of how those games play out is dictated in long practices, meeting rooms and coaches' offices in the days leading up to games. My coaches often stressed the need for our teams to be proactive- dictating the pace of games, making the other team react to our style of play rather than having them control the competition. I see Covey's "private victories" and his first habit of proactivity much in the same way. My headstrong nature has led me to try and be proactive whenever possible- whether it's heading off a trouble spot in rehearsal, making the effort to show at a youth choir member's soccer match, or finding time to call or visit church members who are going through rough patches in their lives. However, these examples are all ones that are public; private proactivity can be a daunting task. Covey noted the difficulty of staying on a dieting and exercise regimen; keeping that up is no easy task for me now that I don't have a 2-hour practice five days a week. After dwelling on these principles laid out in the book, I think the best things for me to work on privately would be my rehearsal planning strategies and the way I manage my time throughout the week. These private victories, I feel, will be as important as the public ones I have with my minister, choir, and congregation going forward.

Seven Habits: Character Ethic vs. Personality Ethic

In reading Covey's delineation between the "Character Ethic" and the "Personality Ethic," I began to consider the ways in which I had already incorporated or relied on one set or another. Surely my life reflected the foundations of success from the Character ethic: I have integrity, I'm patient, industrious, and modest at all the right times! I then stopped and wondered if indeed I had displayed those characteristics- but only in a conditional sense, making them as much a part of the Personality Ethic as the Character Ethic.
Everyone's always said that I have a great personality, that I'm charming, easy to talk to, get along with, etc. But what about when people aren't watching? What am I like then? Whether as a choral conductor or a church musician, one must be able to effectively communicate with others in a way that is not abrasive or distant; one must also be able to convey a willingness to help, offer counsel, and be a faithful guardian of information. Genuine interest helps both parties.
I look at the two ethics as I do two approaches one can have to dating: if one is interested in the short-term, "get-rich-quick" type of relationship, then you'll do anything you can to get the other person to trust you, feel comfortable with you, regardless of the ethical boundaries you might bend and break in the process. However, if you're genuinely looking for a supportive, strong relationship, you take people for how they are; you learn to accept and love all their idiosyncrasies; patience, understanding, and honesty are of primary importance. As I've just gotten engaged, I've been able to realize this change in my life the past couple of years, and how it's begun to shape my entire person in a positive way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: An overview.

For the most part, I tend to stay away from mainstream books that become some folks' standards to live by. In my mind, they all get lumped into the same category, be they A Purpose-Driven Life or The South Beach Diet, et al. However, I must admit that Seven Habits' opening pages are better than I expected, perhaps because of how Stephen Covey presents his initial premises based on past experience. We all know that hindsight is 20/20; however, we're not always comfortable with looking back on past events to see what we may have done wrong, much less realize that our whole way of evaluating past actions and those to come might be flawed. I'm intrigued as to how my paradigms might shift as a result of reading Seven Habits.