Monthly Archives: September 2011

Derek Redmond’s Dad

You probably don’t recognize the name Derek Redmond.  You might recognize his story though.  He was a sprinter in 1992 Barcolona Olympics.  He was the British record holder and a contender to do well in the 400m.  He had an injury-plagued career, but as he prepared for the most important 45 seconds of his life, the announcer claimed that he was in the “best form he’d shown.”   About 15 seconds into the race, he tore his hamstring.  He crumpled to the ground in pain.  If that was the end of his race, no one would remember Derek Redmond, but as a trainer started to attend to him, Redmond got up and started limping around the track.  He was determined to finish what he had begun.  He was determined to finish the lap.

As he limped around the track, fans started to cheer.  Several attendants approached him, but he waved them off.  He was alone on the track.  A wide shot of him in the video below reveals a strange scene – one man hobbling and barely able to stand, not the usual group of amazing athletes speeding along the curve.  As he comes around the turn, the crowd is cheering him on.  They understand what he is trying to do.  They admire him for it.  But then something else happens.  Something extraordinary.  Something that until recently, I don’ t think I really understood.  Watch below.

A man comes out on the track.  We don’t see what he had to do to get on the track.  We do see him push past one person that tries to stop him.  He puts his arm around the wounded athlete, and the recognition on Derek Redmond’s face helps us understand.  This is his father.

This is his father who he drapes his arm around.  Suddenly, the emotions of the moment catch up to the pain and Derek Redmond buries his face in his father’s chest.  His father is now literally holding him up as another attendant comes.  This time the guy is more adamant, but there is nothing that is going to take the boy from his father.  You can almost read his lips, as he waves the man away, “Get the hell out of here!”  is what I think he says.

The two finish the race together while the stadium rose to its feet in appreciation for what they had witnessed.  Afterward, the father says, “Whatever happened, he had to finish.  And I was there to help him finish.  I intended to go over the line with him. We started his career together.  I think we should finish it together.”

Derek Redmond is now a motivational speaker.  On his website, he gives an interview where he describes his father as “My motivator, my hero, my pal, my bodyguard, my physio and my masseur some days.”  I have seen this video of him and his Dad before, but the other day I watched again – perhaps for the first time as a father myself.  I started thinking about Derek Redmond’s Dad.

My girls are too young to participate in competitive sports, but I’ve already began to dream about what their future holds.  I think about their lives as dancers, athletes, students, friends.  I think about the relationships they’ll make, the people they’ll know, the places they’ll go, and the accomplishments that await them.  Is the Olympics in their future?  Who knows?

As a father I can dream with them.  I can dream for them.  I can imagine myself watching my daughter in the biggest moment of her life.  I can already be nervous, waiting for her chance to shine.  I do not know what her dreams will be, but I can imagine being at the cusp of them, ready to emerge victorious.

What would it be like to be watching your son or your daughter run in the most important 45 seconds of their life, and then come up injured.  How much would it hurt to see her body lying on the ground, broken; her race over; her career over; her dream over?  How much would it hurt to think of the hours of practice, the trips to the gym, the diets, the training, the injuries, the coaching, the sacrifices that had all come to this point, and end with her crumpled on the ground waiting for the stretcher to carry her off the track so they could keep the schedule of the rest of the event?

Then, what would it feel like to see her get up?  I remember the first time she fell off of her bike, and I remember with pride the moment she got back on her bike and kept going.

As I watch this video of Derek Redmond hobbling around the track I can see my daughters, struggling to finish something that they set out to achieve.  When I dream their future, I don’t dream of them victorious.  I dream of them courageous.  I don’t dream of them with accolades and fame and money.  I dream of them with conviction and perseverance and strength.

And when I see Derek Redmond collapse into the loving arms of his father, I dream that someday I will be able to be there for my daughters.  I hope beyond hope that when they face a obstacle in their life that feels bigger than they can handle, that I will be able to be there for them.  I hope this in part because I know what it feels like to collapse into the loving arms of my Dad.

The fact remains, I might not always be there for them.  So I live every day teaching, praying, reading, dancing, laughing, and crying with them so that they know, and that they will always know that their Daddy loves them.  More importantly, I do these things so that they know, and that they will ALWAYS know that our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves them. Amen.

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Filed under Christianity, Sports

New Facebook Insecurity

When facebook changed its layout the other day, it caused quite a stir.  All over my news feed people were crying foul, posting pictures like this one.  It all seemed a little over the top to me.  I responded by posting a picture that read “I am appalled that the free service that I am in no way obligated to use keeps making changes that mildly inconveniences me.” I’ve been on Facebook since 2008.  It has added much to my life.  It makes it easier to share pictures of my kids with family.  I have reconnected with cherished friends that I would have thought were lost until the next reunion.

It has given me a platform to voice political opinions, informative articles, and to seek out readers for this blog.  I have gotten infuriated over other’s rants, and have probably caused others to wonder, “what is that guy’s problem?”  I have 468 facebook friends, whom I can now group into distinct lists.  Some of the 468 I barely even remember meeting the first time.  Some I never really wanted to reconnect with – they just sort of “appeared.”  All the while I have scoffed at those that mocked facebook.

All of the complaints against the big blue F seemed silly and uninformed.  I had my security settings mastered.  I could spot a virus video link a mile away.  I changed my password frequently to avoid  spammers.  Now however, I am starting to have doubts.

Insecurity is starting to creep in.  I think it started for me when I watched the movie “Social Network.”  No longer was Facebook some anonymous website with a clean logo.  It suddenly had a face – with insecurities, faults, and frailties.  Are you telling me that Facebook was created because some nerd wanted to impress a girl?  This did not bode well.  But then I realized that almost everything awesome ever created by a man was probably done to impress a girl.

Yet my fortress of certitude that I had built around facebook started to crumble.  When I read about how difficult it is to delete a facebook account, I started to get worried.  My fall-back argument to every facebook criticism was always “I could always delete it.”  Now I am not so sure.  Yes, you can delete your account, but is it ever really deleted?  Recently a friend of mine announced he was getting off of facebook.  He asked if there was a way to backup what you have stored on FB.  It turns out that there is a program to backup everything that you have ever put on FB.  Every picture, every comment, every note, every link.  EVERYTHING.  Which begs the question.  If I can back it all up, then where is it all stored?

I’ve read a few interesting articles.  Some are pretty alarmist, like this one called “Facebook’s new terms of service: ‘We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever”  This one is called “Ten Reasons Why You Should Quit Facebook.”  Here is another article called “The Web Means The End of Forgetting.”  It all seems like an invasion of privacy.  It is starting to make me a little squeamish.

Yet it is hard to say they are invading our privacy when everything that we put on facebook is completely voluntary.  I know that there is no such thing as privacy on the internet.  It is an illusion.  I operate understanding that everything I put on faceboook is permanent.  This unfortunately, is not an assumption I had for the first couple of years on facebook, but live and learn, right?  Then a couple of weeks ago I saw my own cell phone number on my facebook profile.  I am positive that I never entered that.  How did that happen?

So now I am looking at the new facebook.  And I am seeing everything that everyone of my friends does, and I’m starting to think – “Do I need to know that?”  Or more importantly, “Do I want all of my friends knowing everything I do on facebook?”

So now this is popping up on people’s statusses.

Please do me a favor and move your mouse over my name here, wait for the box to load and then move your mouse over the “Subscribe” link. Then uncheck the “Comments and Likes”.

I would really rather that my comments on friends and families posts not be made public, Thank You! Then re-post this if you don’t want your every single move posted on the right side in the “Ticker Box” for everyone to see!

I’m posting this not only for myself, but also so that my friends and family will know to ask others to do the same if they would not like their every move on facebook!

Then I read somewhere that this really doesn’t do any good.  It is all so confusing.  And that is my point.  I don’t think any of us really know what is going on.

It seems like things are moving incredibly fast.  Laws haven’t caught up.  Social mores are being created as we speak.  What’s too much on FB?  What does it mean to be in community while sitting at a computer?  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I no longer see Facebook as a benevolent entity helping people get connected.  It is what it is – a multibillion dollar business designed to streamline  advertising and gather consumer information.  Am I okay with that?  If I know that I’m being exploited, is it really exploitation?  The problem is I just don’t know.

In five years, what are we going to say about 2011?  Are we going to laugh at those that had worries about Facebook the way we now chuckle at those that refuse to buy things on amazon?  Am I going to regret photo-documenting my family’s life?  Is something I said, did, or posted going to cost me? hurt my family?  get me in trouble?

I don’t know.  I don’t think any of us do.

I’m not deleting my facebook account.  For better or worse, it has become a part of my life.  I can’t in good conscious encourage others to join though.  But if you are on facebook, do me a favor and “Like” the Fat Pastor.  I have 65 fans, and I’d really like to get over 100.

Here’s another blog called “Facebook Friends”

Here’s a cartoon that I think sums it up pretty well.






Filed under Personal Reflection

10 years later in a 9/12 world

Photo taken by my good friend Rev. Scott Elliott. This is part of a mural in a Sunday school room. The original art is by Steve Selpal and the gifted artists who painted it were Steve, Anita Knapp Kidney, Lizzy Knapp and Emily Knapp.

I’m wondering.  Did our world change, or just our perspective of it?  In many ways, the answer is obvious, and it runs deeper than longer lines at the airport and more flags flying from front porches. Two wars have been fought.  Thousands have died.  The lives of the families of those that were lost were changed in ways I cannot even fathom.  Billions have been spent.  Countless tears have been shed.  There are many ways the world has changed.  We live in a more fearful era.  There is less trust.  There is more resentment.

Yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder if the world really changed, or just the way we see it.  There was terror on September 10, 2001.  There were people that hated America.  There were people that feared Muslims.  There was injustice.  Innocents died.  People mourned.  We have a tendency to look back at our country before 9-11 and glamorize it.  Listening to the accounts of the day makes me wonder if people think that economic turmoil, political upheaval, and fearful lashing out with violence are new to the world.

We live in a September 12 world, and we are keenly aware of this world’s problems, but they were not invented on that terrible day.  We continue to struggle with the events of September 11 and wonder when we may get past it.  We wonder how long we will live in fear?  How long will we live with resentment?  How long will we live in suspicion?  When will September 13 come?  When will healing come?  When will peace come?  Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! (Psalm 130).

As Christians, none of this should come as a surprise.  We live most of our lives in a Saturday world.  Saturday is the day of waiting.  It is after the terror of Friday and before the joy of Sunday.  It lies in the midst of fear and speculation.  Most of the disciples responded to Jesus’ death as most humans would.  They ran.  They hid.  They locked themselves in a room and wondered, “When are they coming for us? How long will we live in fear?  How long will we live with resentment?  How long will we live in suspicion?”  They might have remembered the promises of Jesus while he walked with them, but all they could see were the lashes on his back and the crown of thorns on his head.  All they could hear were his cries of pain.  All they could taste were their own tears.  All they could touch was the cold and lifeless body of their teacher, their friend, their Messiah.

How long must we live in Saturday?  How long must we live in September 12? 

I’m not sure I can answer that question.  I know this: The disciples didn’t come out of that locked room on their own.  It took the resurrected Jesus to break through the barriers that men built.  It took the risen Lord to overcome their fear and their doubt.  It took the loving arms of the Son of God to set them free and send them into the world to set others free.

In the few days that followed the attacks on 9/11, none of us really had a choice.  We were deep in the shock of sadness and fear.  I remember being glued to the TV for hours on end with tears dried on my face.  I remember coming to grips with the fact that my freedom and safety was in jeopardy.  My world changed that day, or was it just my perspective?  Did I finally awaken to the reality of the world that had so long been easy to ignore?

Ten years later, we all have a choice.  The shock has long worn off, so now we have the ability to choose.  With what perspective are we going to look at the world?  I have lived through the pain of Good Friday.  I have waited through the despair of Saturday, and I have risen with Jesus in glorious resurrection on Sunday.  I know there is much to do.  I know we are not there yet, but I have been shown the way.

So now, in the midst of our September 12 world, we must choose.  In your own September 12 world, which do you choose? Hope or despair?  Understanding or ignorance?  Mercy or vengeance?  Reconciliation or bitterness?  Grace or judgment?  Justice or oppression?

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Filed under Christianity